Sam Sorbo is passionate about faith and families. We had the chance to sit down for an interview with Sam for The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, in which Sam shared her story of going taking her own kids back from the schools and how that decision has blessed her family. Please enjoy this transcript of their heart-felt and encouraging conversation.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I am so excited that you are with us today because you are likely listening to this podcast because you likely saw the guest that I have on today. Her name is Sam Sorbo. Many of you are very familiar with her as a homeschool mom, as an actress, as the wife of Kevin Sorbo. She is just an amazing mom, an amazing wife, and she is such a blessing to me. Sam, welcome to the podcast.
Sam Sorbo: Thank you so much for having me.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, and welcome Aby too. I’ve got my co-host here with me as well so the three-
Sam Sorbo: Hi, Aby.
Aby Rinella: I’m here. Hi, I’m so excited to get to know you a little bit better and be encouraged.
Sam Sorbo: Its fun. It’s just like us girls.
Aby Rinella: Yes.
Yvette Hampton: Right. We need our cup of coffee. Right?
Aby Rinella: I know.
Yvette Hampton: We have a neat story of when we got to actually meet you Sam, you are a really important part of Schoolhouse Rocked, the movie.
Yvette Hampton: It was about two years ago, several people had said to us, you really need to try to get Sam Sorbo in this movie. And I felt I don’t even know how to get hold of Sam Sorbo. One day, Garritt just said, we really want you to try to reach out to her, because I’d really like to get her as part of the cast. I said, okay. I found SamSorbo.com and I went onto your contact me page, sent you an email. Every time I do that, I always just assume it’s going to go into this big black hole of email that no one’s going to see it. At least not the person I’m trying to reach. And a couple of hours later you called me and it was so funny because my phone rang and I was expecting another call at the time from someone whose number I didn’t know. I didn’t expect to recognize the number.
Yvette Hampton: I picked up the phone, I said hello, and you said “hi, this is Sam Sorbo” and it was so funny. I actually said, hi Sam, could you hold on just one second and I put you on hold. I looked at Karen, I said “Its Sam Sorbo!”
Yvette Hampton: It was so funny. And then I calmed myself down, and you and I from there had a great talk. I think we talked for about an hour about our families and homeschooling and culture and all things related to those three things. And just it was so neat to get to know your heart, and that made me even now much more excited about having you as part of the movie and so-
Sam Sorbo: Can I be perfectly Frank?
Yvette Hampton: … yes.
Sam Sorbo: I had heard about the movie, and I don’t know if I’d seen stuff but I’d heard about it. I knew some people who had done the movie and stuff. And I was like, I want to be in that movie. When you reached out I’m like yeah. And I had just started this new thing where I pick up the phone now because I’m so tired of texting in the evening and I’m like look, she reached out, she put her phone number right there, she’s getting a call. I picked up the phone and we did, we had a really like mind-meld on the phone that first time that we talked, I think because we share a passion for the incredible grace that homeschooling provides. Is that the right way to put it? It’s such a gift. We feel like we’ve figured out sliced bread, we’ve got the wheel, it’s the most amazing invention, right?.
Sam Sorbo: So when you find somebody who’s like-minded, you just want to hug them. I think when I came to the house I just hugged you. I’m like, hey you’re here!.
Yvette Hampton: There is that there is a connection between moms that choose to school, to raise their own children. There is such a deep connection because it’s a commitment. It’s a beautiful commitment. And like you said, it’s the greatest gift, it is absolutely, next to marriage, it’s the greatest gift.
Sam Sorbo: Yeah. And there’s also the flip side, which is, I don’t want to say that we’re ostracized, but we’re sort of on the outside, and so there’s the mainstream people who send their kids to school and then we’re the other. And so when we meet people who are like us, there’s an instant comradery and it’s such a gift, homeschooling, that we feel like we’ve got that special sauce or we figured something out like it’s the worst kept secret or something.
Yvette Hampton: Well Sam, you and Kevin are from Hollywood and so this is the great analogy, is that when you see a good movie, like an excellent movie, and you want to tell everyone about it, like God’s Not Dead. It’s such a good movie or Let There be Light. You’ve seen a great movie and then you want everyone to see it and so will you tell all of your friends, you’ve got to go see this movie, it’s so good and you get excited about it. That’s how I feel about homeschool. I mean that’s why we’re making a movie about it. That’s exactly why. That’s why we do the podcast. It’s why we’re doing the movie. It’s why we are doing the Homegrown Generation Family Expo, because we want to share the goodness that we have discovered.
Sam Sorbo: And recognize that there are people who don’t want you to share that. Unlike movies, for the most part, it’s like if you like the movie, then go ahead and tell anybody. But if you like homeschooling, there are people out there saying no don’t do it.
Yvette Hampton: Well, I think oftentimes, and I don’t know if you find this to be true, I think oftentimes the reason that people don’t want us to talk about it with them is because they don’t have that conviction, and they don’t want to feel convicted or guilted over the fact that they are not homeschooling. So Aby, do you find that to be true?
Aby Rinella: Yeah, I do. I do find that to be true. As I talk to older generation homeschoolers, I feel like it’s totally shifted. They used to get the, don’t do that, that’s so terrible. And now I almost feel like people are like, aren’t you lucky to be able to do that? But I never could because of a, b, and c and d. The other part I sometimes get is, oh, you think you’re better. And that part breaks my heart because not at all do I think I’m better.
Aby Rinella: I mean, I do with my heart and soul and, and even with God’s word, believe this is God’s best design. This is God’s best way to raise our children. Do I think I’m a better person or a better mom? No. But I do believe, and God’s word says this is God’s best design to raise our own children. He gave us these children to raise, but I think it’s different than it was back on the day of like, this is a bad thing to do now. It seems like people are almost slightly envious that we get to spend as much time as we do together as a family.
Yvette Hampton: And that actually segues perfectly into Sam’s book. You actually have a couple of books, and the first one that I really became familiar with was called, They’re Your Kids, an inspirational journey from self doubter to homeschool advocate. So I would love to talk about that. Let’s have a quick break and then let’s come back and talk about that book.
Aby Rinella: Sam, we had just kind of segued into your book called They’re Your Kids. I love the name of that book because when we were ready to put our kids in school, my husband said, you know, God gave us these kids to raise. He didn’t give them to everybody else to raise, they’re our kids and we need to raise them. So when I first saw the title of your book, I’m like, that was the line, the catching line, that kept our kids home with us to raise. So excellent name. So tell us a little bit about that book.
Sam Sorbo: That’s awesome. So I started homeschooling after my son finished second grade and the school just wasn’t getting the job done. They just weren’t doing what I expected them to do, which wasn’t that much frankly, but they were getting too much, just really wrong. And so I just made the leap and I said, okay, I’m going to do this. At that point I decided to start blogging about it. So that first year I did it until Christmas, and then I said I was going to reevaluate but I knew already I wasn’t going to go back. So the first year was great. Hard, not like oh this is easy, I’ve got this all covered. I was the young homeschooler so I tried to do everything. I checked off every box, it was labor intensive.
Sam Sorbo: And of course I had my third grader, a first grader, and a toddler.
Aby Rinella: You were in the trenches.
Sam Sorbo: So I was blogging about what I was learning and I began learning so much, which I had not expected. Because I was done. I went through high school, I finished, I went to college. I felt like I was done. So why was I learning all this stuff? And yet my kids were teaching me so much and I was learning so much that put me in the position of being able to tutor them and stuff. And the second year I put them back into a little Christian school that had a hybrid program. It was a classical Christian-modeled school, and it was a disaster. And the day that I dropped them off, I cried my eyes out. And the weird thing is, and this is really the reason that I wrote the book, I brought my kids in and my second child was not a great reader, but he was a little mathematician.
Sam Sorbo: He was like a human calculator. He loved, loved, loved math. And so I had allowed him to work ahead in math, and I’d had to tutor him a lot in reading because he was just abysmal. So he was in second grade. I brought him in and the gal said, okay we’re going to test him to see where he lines up with what students. And she comes back and says so you’re right. Because I was apologetic. I said he’s great in math, he’s advanced in math, but he’s remedial in reading. She comes back and she says, so you’re right, he’s testing at about a fourth grade level in math. And I’m like, “yeah”. She said, but he’s reading at about a fifth grade level. And I said, “so I’m the one with the problem?” And she said “yeah, I think so.”
Sam Sorbo: Here’s the thing, right? I made the rules and the rule was I was dropping the kids off that day. So it never even occurred to me, hey look, you’re vindicated. You’re doing fine. Good job mom. Keep up the good work. Take the kids home and keep going. I didn’t, I dropped them off. And the rest of the story is in the book. It didn’t end well. I lasted six weeks and then I stopped and I brought them back home. And somebody said to me about a year later, it took me a while to process what had happened, and somebody said to me, “isn’t it wonderful how God allowed you to make that mistake to teach you that you are enough?”
Sam Sorbo: And that was a huge lesson. So after that I didn’t look back. But before that, you can’t help it, you look back, and the reason is because the system has taught you that you’re not enough, that you’re inadequate, but you can’t. In fact, the system has taught you everything that you can’t do because you can’t do anything that you haven’t been formally instructed to do by a teacher standing at a blackboard. Like this is the paradigm, this is how you learn, and everything else is not learned. And so we have this weird, honestly it’s like we’ve been brainwashed, we have this odd idea of what is really education. I got to tell you I have a new initiative now to revamp the way that we even define the word education. In fact, I may have a way to put it into the political campaign this coming year.
Sam Sorbo: And I’m very excited about that because people need to reexamine what constitutes education, what counts for education. We saw the parents that are being indicted for purchasing their children’s way into college. Really what is a college degree worth if all it takes is some cash that your folks have to get you into the school of your choice or the school of their choice. So we’ve seen that more recently, there was a young man who they found out his parents had bought his way into school, and they were considering rescinding his degree. If we get into the take-backs, then what? And now of course we have the socialists saying, well, education should be free. Well then know how much it’s going to be worth, right? The fact is with the internet, we all have the facility to learn anything we want, basically at any time we want for free. For the most part. It’s insane. So education is in the offing. It’s out there for the taking, and we need to get away from this old, dead paradigm of sending your children into an institution. It’s killing our young men. It’s just destroying them because it’s not geared to young men. Little boys should be outside picking up critters.
Yvette Hampton: Yes. And on that point, Sam, you know it’s really important, and we talk a lot about this on the podcast in that the whole idea of raising up our kids and homeschooling them is to teach them how to learn, and to teach them to love learning. It’s not just an issue of teaching them a bunch of facts, pouring it into their brains so that they can then go off and rattle them off on a test and mark, all the right check boxes. It’s really teaching our kids how to be lifelong learners because like you said the internet is full of all sorts of information that our kids can try. First of all, they need to have the discernment to know what is real information and what is false information. And where that comes from too is then takes us back to the word of God.
Yvette Hampton: Are we training our children up in discernment and in wisdom and teaching them how to be wise and how to discern right from wrong? Just because Facebook says it or the internet says it, or your friends say it certainly does not make it true. And we’re seeing that all around culture right now and this whole new generation of kids has been raised up, and they have no idea what they believe, but they’ve got degrees and they’ve got a piece of paper saying $60,000 in debt to tell them that they have this great education and they don’t know anything.
Sam Sorbo: What’s worse is they don’t know how to find joy. So I just want to step back for a minute, and say that it’s our job to teach our children to love learning. The fact is, no teaching required. Children love learning. They’re innately curious and they’re innately creative. There’s a great Ted talk, well the first half of it, by Ken Robinson, I think it’s been viewed 64 million times. And he talks about the death of creativity. How schools basically kill creativity because you need to get it right. And the only way to be able to get things right is if there’s a culture of the ability to fail. That embraces failure as a way of getting to the right answer. We don’t have that. If you get it wrong, it’s a red check mark, it’s a cross out. Well now they don’t even discern between right and wrong.
Sam Sorbo: As long as you feel good about the answer it’s cool, crazy stuff. So our job is actually even easier, because all we’re supposed to do is inspire the children toward your goal of learning, towards their creativity and that’s the wonderful thing. But now we’ve got these kids who have grown up in this environment where there is no right and wrong, there is no moral yardstick for them. They’ve been taught everything but Christianity there, it is not, no religion. Let’s get that straight. It’s not that we have no religion in our schools. We absolutely have a religion. It’s actually called irreligion now. It’s the combination of atheism and agnosticism and it’s irreligion, and it is the antithesis of Christianity or Judeo-Christian principles. And the reason that I’m so desperate to get the word out is because our freedom is completely intertwined with our Christian faith. And so as we lose the faith in our culture, we lose our freedom because they don’t have the same value as they did, and so we will squander them because they’re completely intertwined, and it’s a very powerful thing. People who have no faith have no concept of what that is, so they’ll squander it freely.
Aby Rinella: That’s why you see so much selling out, without that foundation of a faith, you’ll sell out to the highest bidder, the almighty dollar or whatever they’re going to offer you.
Yvette Hampton: Let’s close out this episode and let’s continue on for part two on Wednesday, because I want to talk more about this, but we are out of time for this one. So Sam, for those listening to this one, where can people can find out more about you at SamSorbo.com, correct?
Sam Sorbo: At samsorbo.com and I do have a new book coming out, so I’ll just throw that up there. It’s called Through Faith. This is my mock up, so it’s not a real copy, I wrote it with my husband Kevin. It talks about marriage, movie making, and miracles, oh my!
Yvette Hampton: When we come back on Wednesday and we talk a little bit more about that book.
Sam Sorbo: I would love to. Just go to SamSorbo.com for all the information you need.
Yvette Hampton: All right, sounds great. Thank you guys for listening. We will see you back here on Wednesday and have a great day.
In her books How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You? and How to Have a HEART for Your Kids, Rachael Carman challenges mothers to surrender their will and draw closer to their heavenly Father. She invites moms to join her in loving God passionately and worshiping him fully while sweeping up Cheerios, doing laundry, and planning dinner. You will be affirmed in your role as a mother as Rachael speaks of her struggles with perfectionism and impatience and shares her challenges, failures, and victories amid the ever-changing seasons of life. Her honesty will surprise you, and her humor will put you at ease.
Rachael is not only a respected author but is also a sought-after speaker. She has been a speaker in over thirty states and seven countries. She has been married to her husband, Davis, since 1986. They have seven kids with whom they love to laugh. Together, their life has been a roller-coaster ride, with God at the controls. Rachael enjoys playing in the dirt, eating dark chocolate, and walking on the beach. She and Davis are the owners of Apologia Educational Ministries.
Yvette Hampton and Aby Rinella, of The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, recently sat down to talk with Rachael about why marriage matters, how to make it a priority, why it’s important to set a good example for your children, how to respond when things get hard (because that’s reality) and practical tips on how to have a successful and God honoring marriage. Backstage Pass members will get access to the extended portion of this episode with more tips on how to have a great marriage!
Enjoy their conversation.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton with my co-host, Aby Rinella, and we are back with another fantastic guest. Thank you so much for spending time with us today. It’s always such a blessing to know that you’re on the other end and that we get to spend a little part of your day with you. Many of you are familiar with our guest today, Rachael Carman. She’s a wise veteran, homeschool mom who both Aby and I highly respect and we’re thrilled to have her as a speaker for the upcoming Homegrown Generation Family Expo. Welcome, Rachael.
Rachael Carman: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m really honored to be with you in here.
Yvette Hampton: Thank you, tell us briefly about you and your family.
Rachael Carman: Okay. So I’ve been married to my man, it’ll be 33 years in December and we started out on this journey a long, long time ago together and we have seven children, which even now seems impossible. So we have two boys, two sons, and three daughters in the middle and then two sons at the end. I think it’s our 24th year of home education because next I have one more year and that will be 25 years. But we have five homeschool graduates, we have three college graduates and a fourth in this next May and one with his master’s degrees. So all to the glory of God no one is more surprised than I, and not because of my kids, just because of their mom. “O ye, of little faith.” That was me in the beginning of this whole journey.
Yvette Hampton: Well, it’s always an encouragement to hear from moms like yourself who have gone into this without the great confidence of I got this, I can do this and this is going to be amazing because very few moms feel that way. And so to hear you in this from the other end, just saying God works out all the details and in his fullness is so great. So…
Aby Rinella: Well, Rachael, I’m excited to have you here. I was able to hear you at the Homeschool Idaho Convention, last summer. My husband and I both heard you and it was powerful you bring a powerful story and just a great encouragement. And one of my favorite sessions of yours was the session that you did on marriage. And I think it’s so relevant today because marriage is under attack. The family is under attack and what God’s word has to say about marriage isn’t always a popular message that people want to hear. But it just was so encouraged. I just remember I walked out of that room and I could not believe the amount of women that were encouraged I mean just talking about. Wow. It was life-changing for a lot of marriages and it wasn’t just your opinion of marriage, but it was God’s word. And what does God say about marriage? And God’s word works, it’s designed to work. That’s why he gave it to us.
Aby Rinella: So, I’m so excited to take that message that I know just changed lives at my Homeschool Idaho Convention and just bring it to the masses through this podcast. So, you said 33 years you guys have been married?
Rachael Carman: Yeah.
Aby Rinella: And every moment has been absolute wedded bliss, right? No difficulties?
Rachael Carman: You’re funny. You need to take your show on the road. No, it hasn’t been that at all. And I don’t know if I shared this in Idaho so you might get some repeat stuff today, right? So I remember when some friends called to say that they were getting a divorce, which is heart-wrenching to receive that phone call. I’m sure both of you have received that phone call it’s not a phone call you want to ever receive and the person said they were getting a divorce and why. And he said to me, “But you know you wouldn’t understand because you just think each other are amazing and you all are just crazy about each other”. I can tell you this conversation happened 15 years ago. I can tell you where I was standing when I had this conversation. Because I said to this person on the phone. I said, “No, whoa, whoa, whoa. Look, we have been through our ups and downs.”
Rachael Carman: So this would have been … We weren’t even married 20 years at this point. As we’ve been through our ups and downs and if it were not the fact that I made a covenant before the living God, I would have walked years ago and there was this… I was overcome and I said, “It was some force”, but I don’t think it’s right for any of us to look at anyone’s marriage. Anybody who’s been not married longer than 24 hours, should know it takes work. It’s work. And I think we insult each other when we just think anybody is as easy.
Rachael Carman: I think it’s admirable those who have determined, especially in this disposable generation, to stay the course. Because that’s what it is, it’s not about we’ve had friends that got a divorce because they were no longer in love with each other. That’s not part of the equation according to the Bible, this was a promise I entered into a blood covenant with the holy God of the universe that said that I was committing my life to stay in this relationship, good or bad, up or down. I like it or not it wasn’t about my feelings. It was about a promise that I made. And that’s I really think you talk about circling back, we got to circle back. It’s not this marriage thing isn’t a feeling because that does not get you through the hard times. But a covenant does. And one of my big things about marriage is it’s really easy for us to think, it doesn’t matter if we don’t get who God is. Because when you get who God is there becomes a seriousness to the covenant made.
Rachael Carman: Because of who you made the promise to when you make it to God, the almighty sovereign of the universe. You made a vow and so yeah, 33 years, ups and downs, lots of moves, good financial times, bad financial times, selling houses, houses that don’t sell, unemployment, sick children, death of parents and grandparents. It’s been like anybody else’s but we have determined to stay true to the vows that we made before God.
Aby Rinella: I love that. And not even the vows you made to each other, but the vows you made to God and I think that’s really where the difference comes in with a biblical marriage like you said, “Who did you make the promise to? And do you have a reverence for him?” And that is what carries through the hard times.
Rachael Carman: It really does. Just like his word does not return void when we spend time with God and in his word, when we keep our word, which if you study God’s word is a pretty big deal. Keeping your word is a pretty big deal. We were just reading this morning in family devotions and the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus told the masses, “Let your yes be yes, don’t go around having to swear”. And my son goes, ” Well, that didn’t make sense. You have to sign contracts.” I said, “No. But that’s not what it meant. It meant we need to be people of integrity such that when I say, ‘I’m going to do something’, people are like, ‘Oh, no. Rachael said she would do it. She will do it. You don’t need to get a signature. She will keep her word'”.
Rachael Carman: That’s what we’re called to and that’s what marriage is. It’s about being men and women of integrity who stay true to the word that we gave. And we stand our ground and determine to… It’s about honoring God, right? We’ve all heard it and they say it. It takes hearing something 17 times before it soaks in. It takes more than that many times if you have teenagers, that was true, but it takes… In other words, it takes a multitude of times to hear something.
Rachael Carman: And this generation has leaned into the idea that marriage is all about being happy.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Rachael Carman: Then we have heard it, it’s really about that process of becoming Holy, Leviticus 19:2, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy”. And so we’re supposed to… Sanctification is a very real part of this. I mean, marriage is a very real part of the sanctification process that God invites us to lean into, not a runaway from, right? Oh, what I mean when we all love to run away from sanctification, do it our own way, right? And our arrogance and our pride and our selfishness, but marriage is this beautiful context that God says, “Lean in and trust me, I’ve got something for you”.
Aby Rinella: Right.
Yvette Hampton: I love that reminder of trusting him because it’s so hard and like you’re saying, the world is telling us, just do what makes you happy. You see it everywhere. You see it on tee shirts, you see it on signs, you see it on billboards, just do what makes you happy, do you, and that is not what the word of God says. And I was, as you were talking, I was actually thinking about the movie Fireproof with Kirk Cameron. And it’s such a fantastic movie because I think if we’re all realistic about our marriage, we all come to points in our marriage where we feel like we don’t love that person. We’re angry with them. And I mean that feeling may last for 10 minutes or it may last for 10 hours or 10 years. But I think we all feel that at times.
Yvette Hampton: Like I just, I don’t like you. I don’t love you. I don’t want to be with you anymore. But if we rely on those feelings to make the decisions that are life-altering for us and our families, it’s not going to go well with us. And in that movie, Fireproof, he learns to fall in love with his wife all over again. And it’s such a fantastic and beautiful look at what God can do in a marriage. Because even though we don’t feel a certain way, it doesn’t mean that God can’t help us walk through that and heal our marriages. I mean, just like he can heal a wound that a cut on your leg, he can heal the wounds of marriage as well. And if we’re willing to be committed to what God has called us to do, then he can do that.
Yvette Hampton: He is a powerful God. He’s the God of the universe and, he can do that. Why especially in our culture today, Rachael, why does marriage even matter? When you look at a lot of millennials, and I know there are a whole lot of them who just feel like, “Well, marriage doesn’t even matter. I don’t need a husband. I don’t need a wife. I’m doing just fine on my own. I’m pursuing my career. I don’t need a family”. Why does marriage even matter in light of God’s plan for our world?
Rachael Carman: That’s such a great question that I think it’s a question that gets lost. And this me, me, me culture, right? There’s an assumption that it doesn’t matter that it is something that we should do away with. Let’s throw off the shackles of tradition. Let’s throw off the heavy weight of the way things have always been done instead of considering, well, why have they been done that way? Why don’t we dare to ask that question? And it’s a very important question. So, in the very beginning of the Bible, in the beginning, God created, we read through the Genesis account. There is the pronoun we used because we learn very early in scripture, the eternality of God that he established a beginning, right? He established time but he actually existed outside of time, established time with the rhythm of the seasons and all of that.
Rachael Carman: But there’s a… We introduced early in scripture because we know that there’s this perfect unity within the Trinity between father, son and holy spirit. And it is that unity that is physically illustrated in our marriages, right? So, husband, wife and God, that’s the Trinitarian representation in a marriage are those three. And then the reason it matters, I believe is, God wants us to participate in fellowship with one another. He invites us. We were never made to do this by ourselves, which is in my opinion, simultaneously awesome and incredibly intimidating, right?
Rachael Carman: Because it’s awesome because I don’t want to have to do this by myself. I think there are a few things worse than loneliness, which is really why I’m so committed to encouraging homeschool moms specifically because that loneliness can literally take you under when you feel like you’re all by yourself. And I want to just say here if you are a single homeschool mom and you’re longing to be in a marriage, I would just… I pray for you because it is a deep longing and I have friends that are single homeschool moms and that is a very difficult, and I’m so grateful that in scripture we’re told that God is the husband to those women who are doing it.
Rachael Carman: And it’s not easy. It’s harder than doing it as a couple, but God is so good to be a faithful husband in those circumstances. So I wanted to make sure that it didn’t seem like I was unaware that is a very real part of the homeschooling demographic. But marriage matters because again, it’s a part of our sanctification and as we come together as husband and wife and we practice in that fellowship and we practice what we’re called to as followers of Christ, and that is death to self, right? We become more and more like in the likeness of God’s son. It’s a molding process. And when we start learning the beauty and the power of dying to ourselves, then we are better equipped and ready to really serve this others that God puts in our path.
Rachael Carman: That’s what it means when it says so they were trying to trick Jesus and the lawyer I believe comes up and he says, “What’s the greatest commandment?” So it started out as 10, they expanded to 613 and now they’re trying to snag Jesus. Which one of the 613 is he going to say, because he can’t win this, right? Because in theory none of them are more important than the others. And so he goes 10, 613 and he goes to what two and he says, “Love the Lord your God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength”. And the second is like intuit, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Well, that scripture makes a pretty long list of scriptures that have been taken out of context to mean something that it didn’t mean. And so our culture wants that to mean that we need to love ourselves. This whole idea of self-love to the point that we’re neglecting others and we’re becoming selfish and we’re becoming thoughtless and inconsiderate is not at all.
Rachael Carman: If you really want to love yourself, you will seek to become what God has planned for you to be, which means you’re dying to yourself. To love your neighbor means you’re dying to yourself. You love yourself enough to know that your plan for you is not anything on what God’s plan for you is. And so marriage gives us this opportunity to practice this fellowship, to practice dying to ourselves, practice this unity, forgiveness and grace and mercy, right? And it gives us an opportunity to practice intimacy. I mean you want to talk about… So marriage has been under fire for a while now. We’ve seen even among believers, I think it’s 50/50 now, tragically. But even now, I mean you’d have to be dead not to see the attack on sex, right? This beautiful intimate acts that God has given to one man and one woman in a monogamous relationship with each other in a covenant relationship as long as they both shall live is under fire.
Rachael Carman: Because that intimacy represents the intimacy that is available to us, with the God of the universe. It’s a physical representation of the intimacy that God has in store for us and invites us into. So, of course, the enemy is attacking it. We ought not be shocked and surprised. He wants to attack that. He wants people to participate in relationships that are not God-honoring and to carry that shame and that embarrassment and he wants to destroy the beauty of God’s gift to us. So, it matters that we as believers stay true to the covenant that we’ve made, that we lean into the opportunities for sanctification, that God gives us in that context, that we learn what it means to forgive and to be kind and gracious and consider it. That we learn to die to ourselves and that we do indeed enjoy the intimacy that God has given us so that we can be allied to the nations.
Rachael Carman: Because that is something that plays from the inside out, right? And it does, people know. We went out on a date because I’m a huge advocate for couples… Still dating. So we went out on a date and our waiter, he’s in his thirties and he’s like, “So what are you celebrating an anniversary?” And something my husband goes, “No, we’re actually celebrating that in a couple of months”. And he didn’t really care. He just wanted to know. He is so… “And what will it be? How many years have you been married?”. And Davis looked at him square in the eye and said, “On December the 20th, it will be 33 years”. I thought the guy was going to collapse. You know what that nowadays, a marriage that honors God is a huge witness and testament and, I double-dog dare everyone to live that out. Live a marriage that other people look at and go, “I want that”. I think we can… It’s a conversation starter.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah.
Aby Rinella: Right.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. Such good reminders and I will say happy anniversary to my hubby because right around this… At the time this is going to air, we will actually be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.
Rachael Carman: Oh, that is awesome!
Aby Rinella: That’s awesome.
Yvette Hampton: Only by the grace of God.
Rachael Carman: I understand.
Yvette Hampton: Only by God’s grace have we been able to do that. And like you talked about earlier, it is only because we made that commitment to God in the beginning and we promised that we would never even say the word divorce. And, we’ve taken that covenant seriously and it at times has been really hard and just like you and just like everybody, we’ve been through hard times but, we go through them together and even in the midst of the trials and hardships that we have, God created us as a team and he brought us together as husband and wife and we’re committed to this no matter how hard it is.
Yvette Hampton: And, so, yeah, by God’s grace, 25 years and happy anniversary to you guys. I mean, it’s just amazing to see that and we love that. We get to share that with others and not brag about it. Like we’re so great, but brag on God about that and say, “Look what God’s done”. Because truly it’s only by his grace that we have been able to stay married this long.
Yvette Hampton: We are talking about why marriage matters. That was what we talked about in the first episode and just about our covenant that we make between not just us as husband and wife, but as us between our savior, the creator of the universe and how important that covenant is and how God will take all of these hardships and trials that we go through in marriage and use them for his glory. If we’re willing to commit to sticking with our marriages and trusting the Lord, he can and will heal any brokenness that we have because he is a God who loves us. He created marriage. He created it for his glory.
Yvette Hampton: And so I want to continue on this conversation and I want to talk about how homeschool moms can make marriage a priority because that’s something that I know that I struggle with. We get so consumed with our kids and with homeschooling and in our responsibilities at home and laundry and dishes and doctor’s appointments and park dates and all of these things. And sometimes by the end of the day, it’s us and our husband, our kids are hopefully finally in bed. And then sometimes, I just… I’m so exhausted and I don’t even want to have a discussion because I’m just done, I’m spent.
Rachael Carman: I love your honesty.
Yvette Hampton: So how have you after 33 years of marriage… We talked about at the end of the last podcast that you and Davis have celebrated 33 years of marriage and Garritt and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage and you’ve got seven kids, Rachael. So you have had a whole lot more even than I have of little people pulling on you constantly. How have you found it possible to make your marriage a priority?
Rachael Carman: Well, I think it really takes us… So I have a theory that I actually think is true and that is that it is very easy for us to just go through this journey at breakneck speed, trying to get it all done, throwing up a lot of dust, but really not accomplishing anything. And the reason why is because we don’t think that we can afford to take the time that we really at the end of the day, can’t afford not to take. And that is to establish a vision with objectives and goals for what we’re doing. It’s so easy to get caught up in just our lesson plan and I’m actually working on some stuff for my grandkids, right? So therefore and too, and I’ve been working on some stuff in concert with my son and daughter-in-law, putting some little activities together for little hands.
Rachael Carman: It’s been lovely and I just been thinking back on when I had little hands here and like you’re saying how hard it was. But very early on, Davis and I were counseled by some really wise people to take a weekend and think what exactly were we trying to achieve? Was it really just reading, writing and arithmetic? That’s not a bad objective and goal. But was that all that we were trying to do? Are we just trying to get kids who would be accepted into Ivy League institutions where we just…What were we trying to do? And I think it’s easy for years to go by and we just keep thinking, “We’ll think about that later. We’ll think about that later”. And I gave the example of homeschooling because we’re homeschooled moms and I think a lot of us can relate to… You get 5, 6, 10, 12, 25 years in and you’re like, “Wait, what did we do?”
Rachael Carman: But, it happens in our marriages too. And I think if we could step back and get a vision for the opportunity that we have. So, I would bet that most everyone wants their children to marry someone who is going to point them to God over and over. I think we would all want for our children, really good spouses who love the Lord, who are going to encourage our children that we have poured so much into, right? As homeschool moms, we pour an inordinate amount into our children and for all the glorious reasons and it’s wonderful and I love it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done next to marriage, but I’m very grateful that we’ve done it, but if you step back long enough to get the opportunity that you have to have a massive influence on who your kids choose as their spouse… By the way, you interact with your spouse now, right?
Rachael Carman: I can, when I’ve got little’s at my feet already begin to have a very loud voice. Not an obnoxious, not an obtuse, not an overbearing, not a manipulative, but a legitimate, authentic, gracious voice into my children as they began to look for a spouse as Davis and I interact on a daily basis. Because, we are either modeling for our kids something that they are going to long to have that they’re going to want or we’re modeling something that they’re like, “What was that? I don’t want that”. Right. And I mean everything in between, but I want to have the kind of relationship with him on a daily -basis that my kids, as they’re growing up and as they’re teenagers and graduating and getting out into the world, they’re thinking, “I want that”. And so I think it takes getting a vision because once you have a vision for the opportunity, right? Then it becomes a priority because then you’re like, “I want my kids to see an amazing marriage”. Not a perfect one. Our kids have seen us… I will confess, we are not yellers.
Rachael Carman: So, I know that can be a hard thing for a lot of people. We’re just not, we neither one of us came from yelling families. So, our kids have not seen us have a knockdown drag-out, yell crashing. That’s not been part of our home life. But they have seen us upset with each other. They have seen us cold towards each other. They have seen us frustrated and they have seen us come together and they have seen us stick it out and they… Because it’s up close and personal in this journey is going right. So they’ve seen this marriage grow and ebb and flow and work itself out. But they’ve also seen it as a priority. We have had date nights when the kids were little and it was a big deal. I would get dressed up, right? Davis would get dressed up because back in the day, I mean good grief when we had at one point seven under 13. I think, yeah. I mean really it’s a fog.
Rachael Carman: But even back then, I mean we prioritize going on a date and we would make a really big deal of it to the kids. This was our date night and sometimes Davis would go to the local grocery store and pick up a carnation and bring it to me. And it was a big deal. And the sitter came and… Everybody was a part of it and this, daddy is taking mommy on a date, and we would go out. I think your kids need to see that. If marriage is important to you and you want your children to have good marriages, then have one yourself. Prioritize it yourself. I’ve said for a long time, and this is not unique to me, but it is such a powerful truth that applies to a myriad of things. You cannot give what you do not have.
Rachael Carman: So, if you don’t have a vision for your marriage, if your marriage is not a priority, then you can’t cast those two things on that I think you probably want for them, but you can’t pass it on. I mean, you’re setting them up to do what… I don’t know if this is true for the two of you, but it’s been hard to be a first-generation homeschooler. Our parents didn’t do this, right? So we were trying to figure this out. I don’t want my kids to like be a first-generation good marriage, right? I want them to go, “Oh, I remember when dad used to do this and I remember when they do this, I remember they would go on date night”. So, our oldest son is married and they have two grandkids. And so when we get to go see them in the great state of Idaho-
Aby Rinella: Thank you very much.
Rachael Carman: Yeah. They live in Moscow.
Aby Rinella: Oh wow. They’re way North. That’s beautiful.
Rachael Carman: Yeah. They’re way North. And he got his masters and so that’s why we were there. But when we would go and visit, we always made up for to watch the grandkids so they could go on a date. So we… That’s a gift, that’s a very cheap, inexpensive gift that we can give to them and we will continue to give to them. But if you want that for your kids, figure out a way to start doing it now and moving it out.
Aby Rinella: And honestly, I really think not that women need one more thing to fall on them, but I believe this falls on you moms because I don’t think there’s ever been a time where my husband hasn’t wanted alone time with me. There’s never been a time where he said, “No, I don’t have time. I have too much to do”. I usually see it as the homeschool moms who’s 170 lessons that they need to get done in one calendar year comes far before… That 170 lessons is at the expense of their marriages or their husbands. And so it’s usually us when the kids go to bed that say, “Well now I can do my color-coded lesson plans. Or now I can pre-read the book that I want my kids to read tomorrow”. And really I think moms need to know that this falls on you.
Aby Rinella: You need to be available to your husbands. And for years the minute, the kids went to bed, I sat down with my lesson plans and I started to realize, I am being unfaithful to my husband because I am married to these lesson plans. And when I surrendered that and honestly repented of that to the Lord and I said, “God, you know what, I’ve got one hour a day to get these lesson plans done. If I’m going to be spending the rest of the time with my husband, I need you to take this little fish, this one hour and make this work”. And when I put my husband before my lesson plans, when I put my husband before my meal plans, when I put my husband before my clean house, it’s amazing how God extended my day-to-day. It’s amazing how he took a little bit of time that I did have and extended that because I was seeking first the kingdom of God.
Aby Rinella: I was being obedient to God by putting my husband first. And I think we’re afraid to say, you know what when you are putting anything above God, it’s an idol. And when you are putting anything above your husband, even if it’s a worthy thing like lesson planning or… It’s not being faithful to your husband. And so ladies, we got to step it up in this area. We’ve got to be the wife of his youth that he fell in love with and know it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. It’s 110% worth it. And it’s amazing how everything else comes in to play, how God honors that when we make that choice in every other area of our life.
Aby Rinella: And I love how you said… I wrote down and I love how you said, “We need to make our marriages something that our kids want”. We beat them over the head with how important marriage is, we read the scriptures of how important marriage is. But if we’re battling each other every day, they’re going to walk away from it so fast. So I just love how you said, “We’re the living, breathing example of what God’s word says marriage is to be”.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. That is-
Rachael Carman: We have a whole generation of kids, and I’m talking across the United States, so not exclusively in Christian circles, but we have a whole generation of kids that have experienced the very real ramifications and reproductions, repercussions of coming from broken homes. And so it’s not even just to our kids, but to their friends. I remember a couple of Thanksgivings ago, I have some mantras that everyone should have things that this is a hill I’m going to die on. No one should not have a place to be on Thanksgiving day. Everybody is welcome. People should have, nobody should send it by themselves. Everyone is welcome. This is not my house, this is God’s house. I want people to feel welcome here. I remember a couple of Thanksgivings ago, my second son who went to art school.
Rachael Carman: So yeah, it was as bad as you can imagine. Academically outstanding. He is a gifted artist but the liberalism and the promiscuity and every other blank you want to fill in was present. And this particular Thanksgiving, I remember he called and he said, “So mom, I have some friends I want to bring home”. I was like, “You know that’s fun. That’s great. Just let me know” and he goes, “I know, but I want to tell you”, all of them come from broken homes and we’re all… I’m always talking about, I just got off the phone with me or with dad or I’m looking forward to coming home. And they literally said, “Can we come and see? We’ve never seen it”. So I’m really telling you… And this is something that we also don’t understand the Genesis mandate renewed after the ark, renewed with Abraham to fill the world with the glory of God.
Rachael Carman: That’s part of what we’re doing. It’s a huge part that we have grossly underestimated when we have growing, thriving, joyful marriages. We are participating in the mandate that God has given us to fill the earth with his glory because it’s only with his goodness and his grace abiding in and through us, that’s even possible. But there are other people, Aby, there are people watching you and your husband. There are people watching you and your husband… People you’ll never meet, right? When they see you on a date or they see you’re holding hands, those are all things that we get to say, “God’s way is a good way” and it’s good for us. You know this chasing after my selfish happiness only ends in emptiness.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Rachael Carman: God’s way always brings more fullness and joy than any way we try to do it on our own.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right. His plan is best. Rachael, we have just a few minutes left for this episode and then I would like to do an extended version of this one for backstage pass members, but in the last few minutes that we have for this one, can you speak to the hearts of those whose marriage is just under fire, they are not in a happy marriage for whatever reason. I mean there are a million reasons why marriages are unhappy. Sometimes it’s the husband, sometimes it’s the wife. Their marriage is falling apart all around us. How would you encourage those moms?
Rachael Carman: Yeah. And that’s really a great question and it’s a question that I get often when I do this session. Stand by your man is what it’s generally called. First of all, don’t try to do this by yourself. I believe the first thing you do is you seek God and you spend time in prayer. I think the best way to get the spouse you want to have is to be the spouse that you want to have.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Rachael Carman: So, I think the best thing you can do to improve your marriage is improve yourself and in terms of taking a self-inventory of where you are, how are you contributing? How are you dying to yourself? How are you serving? Are you available? I think Aby made a great point a minute ago when you said it’s not generally the man, but men don’t like to be turned down indefinitely. That’s one thing I learned from my husband that he has talked to our girls about when it comes to dating.
Rachael Carman: He said, “Guys, don’t ask you out unless they think you’re going to say yes”. And so if you get asked out and it’s really a no, you need to be very kind and gracious and considerate because he probably didn’t ask. He would not have asked if he hadn’t thought you were actually going to say yes. So, my point in this is, I really do believe there comes a point where our guys aren’t asking us to snuggle on the sofa anymore and aren’t asking us to get away for the weekend anymore and aren’t… But that doesn’t mean nobody is. You know what I’m saying? I mean, if your husband is wanting to have time with you, we need to run with reckless abandon and do that. So the first thing, if your marriage is in trouble, take some time with God.
Rachael Carman: Dare to pray the hard prayer. God, show me what I need to see in myself, in my own heart. Their prayers that God… I believe God answers all of our prayers. But I mean, boy, that’s one. You’re asking God to show you. He generally shows you. And it’s not usually pretty, but he’s very gracious, loving-kindness. Secondly, know when you need help. There’s no shame in seeking out good Christian counseling and talking to someone. We’ve known friends that in their marriage, some childhood issues come up and it looks like a marriage issue, but it’s really something from way back that was undealt with and unhandled. And we’ve seen marriages reconciled through counseling when they’re both struggling with not… Communication is such a huge thing in marriage. So know when to get help and get it and don’t wait too long.
Yvette Hampton: And know who to get help from because it doesn’t mean go get help from your girlfriend next door who’s not a believer and who’s going to just let you gossip and break down your husband and your relationship, but know how to get godly help.
Rachael Carman: Yeah. I’m so glad you said that. Yeah, and be wise and who you seek help from, and again in this generation, one of the tragedies is their help is so generally pure-based instead of seeking out mentorship from older, they seem to be more content just commiserating among themselves. That doesn’t generally lend itself to progress forward, nor does it offer accountability. Which I think is bad design, but that’s not good. So you’re right. Seek out good biblical Christian counseling and dig your heels in on your covenant. Determine to honor God. Scripture speaks to this. Scripture talks to the woman who finds herself in a bad marriage and adopt a quiet spirit. Live what you believe. Honor, serve, respect. I would commend to anyone that book, Love and Respect. I mean, it’s been an outstanding book. Respect your man, honor him, seek to serve him. Do not talk in any way negatively toward him, to your children or to anyone else that will do it in faster than anything I know. And dare to do the hard work and stick it out.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. Such good advice. I wish we could go on and on. I wish we had all the time in the world to continue talking about this because I know that there are moms out there who even if they’re not in a struggling marriage, we just need to be reminded of God’s promises and of his faithfulness to keep our marriages going and to keep them strong, not just existing but to keep them strong and have that good example set for our children. But we are out of time.
Yvette Hampton: So Rachael and Aby, if you guys can stay on, I would love to do an extended version and some bonus content for our backstage pass members. If you are not a backstage pass member, go to SchoolhouseRocked.com and you can see the Backstage Pass membership button right there and learn more about becoming a backstage pass member. There’s tons of great content on there, interviews from the movie, behind the scenes stuff from the movie and then tons of great podcasts, extended versions of the podcast that we’ve done. But thank you for your wisdom, Rachael. We are so thankful for you. Where can people learn more about you and your ministry?
Rachael Carman: My name is a little tricky to spell. It’s R-A-C-H-A-E-L.
Yvette Hampton: You’ve got that A in there.
Rachael Carman: I know that A is in there and then my last name is C-A-R-M-A-N. So, RachaelCarman.com and there’s tons of content there. I’m on YouTube with some presentations and I’m also on Facebook, Rachael Carman. So I do Facebook lives periodically and all of that’s available there.
Yvette Hampton: Okay, fantastic. We will link to all of those things and I’ll throw in really quickly, I know you’ve got a couple of books, How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?, and then another one called, How to Have a HEART for Your Kids and you also… Some will know… This many will, but you and your husband Davis are the owners of Apologia Educational Ministries and so that’s a fantastic Christian worldview curriculum. You guys have a ton of great resources on there, so we’ll link back to Apologia as well. Rachael, thank you for your heart. You have such a heart for moms, for ministry, for homeschooling, and I am grateful for your wisdom and your willingness to share with us today.
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For the first episode of the third season of The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast Yvette Hampton and Aby Rinella sat down with Kristi Clover to talk discuss a subject that most of us consider at the start of every year, ORGANIZATION. Kristi is a master organizer and has just released a fabulous book on the subject, that is sure to be an encouragement and valuable resource to you, M.O.M. – Master Organizer of Mayhem.
Kristi offers 10 simple rules to help parents manage the chaos of their homes on a daily basis. From learning routines and habits to creating systems to stay organized, she dives into the most common areas moms struggle with in their homes.
In addition to Kristi being a home organization and efficiency expert, she’s also an author, a speaker, and the host of the Simply Joyful Podcast. Her passion is to encourage families to find simple ways to bring more joy into their home and life. She loves to share about her adventures in motherhood and home life through a variety of media that you can find at KristiClover.com. As a mom of five, she’s never short on opportunities to “practice what she preaches” in the realm of home organization and #momlife. Kristi lives in San Diego with her husband, Steve, and their five children. Be sure to connect with Kristi online for an extra dose of encouragement. She’s @KristiClover on most social media networks. Enjoy this transcript of their conversation.
Yvette: Hey, everyone. This is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. As always we have such an exciting guest on today. I also have my amazing cohost with me again today, Aby Rinella, We are talking to Kristi Clover, mom of moms, homeschool mom of homeschool moms, and part of the speaker line up for the upcoming, Homegrown Generation Family Expo. She is so much fun. You guys are going to love this episode with her. We are talking about her new book, M.O.M.is that what you actually call it Kristi? M.O.M?
Kristi Clover: Yeah, M-O-M – Master Organizer of Mayhem. There it is.
Yvette: M.O.M. – Master Organizer of Mayhem. I love that title. I love the cover of the book. It is so much fun. It’s so eye-catching when you first look at it. It’s got a bunch of Legos all over it. So, welcome. And this is a great time, because your book just came out and I’m excited about it and want to tell people all about it. And Aby, thanks for joining us again today.
Aby Rinella: I’m excited to be here. Organization is my Love Language, so I’m super excited to be on here.
Kristi: I love it. Let me speak love to you today.
Yvette: It’s the eighth Love Language, huh?
Aby: Oh, it is.
Kristi: Oh, yeah! No, totally. I laughed, because I was so stressed out at one point because, I shared with you guys before we started that we started this home renovation. My friends are like, “You cannot call it remodel. You’re down to studs.” I’m like, “Great.” At the same time, we’re doing book launch, so I just, I have moments where I’m like, “Oh, find a happy place. Find a happy place.”
Kristi: I started doing this deep declutter, and my husband was laughing. He’s like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “I feel really happy right now.” He’s like, “I’m just going to walk away.” I’m like, “Yeah, you do that. I’m really happy right now.” I was in this delirious moment. He was like, “Okay.”
Yvette: Oh my gosh. It’s like nesting, right? Because, instead of birthing a child, you’re birthing a brand new home.
Kristi: Yes! And a book. This is not recommended. I’m like, “I brought this upon myself because I called it Master Organizer of Mayhem”, so the Lord was like, “Ha-ha-ha, let’s bring a little more mayhem into your life”. And school, and homeschooling.
Aby: Like when you pray for patience and you’re like “oh, I shouldn’t have done that”.
Kristi: Oh, I don’t do that anymore.
Yvette: So very quickly Kristi, tell us about your family, because you’ve got some kiddos, and a husband, and people you like.
Kristi: Oh yes. Just a few kiddos. I love it because the homeschool community, I can say this: We only have five kids. Here in San Diego, people are like “you have what! Are you crazy? Do you know how that works?”. And we’re like yeah. And I have a funny story about that in the book actually. Someone here in San Diego who asked that to me. I was in a very hormonal state. I was pregnant with our fifth and yeah I had a very snarky response.
Kristi: So, Steve and I have been married for 22 years. We just celebrated our 22nd anniversary. We have five kids. Grant is the oldest, he’s 17. Then Blake is 16, Wade is 11, Ashlyn is 8, and Kaitlin is 6. So when I was pregnant with Kaitlin, it’s socially acceptable to continue to have more kids if you have all of one gender. So when I was pregnant with Ashlyn, everyone was like, “Aww, did you get your girl?”. And Mama Bear, mom of boys was like, “I did but I love my boys.” Leave me alone!
Kristi: When I was pregnant with Kaitlyn, I had the gentleman who decided to hit me on a day when I was very tired and hormonal. And he looked at the three boys and Ashlyn and he’s like, “You do know how that works, right?”. I’m like, “Yeah and you know what they say, practice makes perfect.”
Kristi: So sorry I went a little rated-PG there. But yeah it was awesome. And he is like “Ahhh.” And the woman behind him was blushing. The woman at the cash register was laughing so hard. So, I’m trying to get the kids out of the store and all of my older kids were like, “What does that mean? What do you mean?” And I was like, “Nothing! Nothing, mommy shouldn’t have said that.” Don’t speak when you’re pregnant, I don’t know.
Yvette: Oh goodness. Well come to the South, where lots of people have lots of kids. And it is totally socially acceptable. And we’re the family that only has two kids. We don’t drive a mini van, and what else don’t we do, probably lots of homeschooling things.
Kristi: We don’t fit in a mini van anymore, because my teenagers are 6’2″! So they won’t fit in the car very well, and everyone is too scrunched for a mini van. So we’re literally at the stage where we have an SUV, but everyone is trying to talk us into a mega sprinter thing that fits 12 and ya know 10 bikes and a camper.
Aby: It’s got a camper in it. You can sleep in there.
Kristi: We’re just gonna drive a motor home.
Yvette: So much fun. So these multiple kids that you have, that you’ve practiced for, for many years. And you now have a perfect child. This has been, I’m sure one of the many things that has caused you to write this book, called “M.O.M.– Master Organizer of Mayhem”. I love the title of it. Tell us about your book and help us, moms who are trying to figure out. Because I know this is a difficult thing for any mom, not just homeschool mom. But homeschool mom when you add real life and then homeschooling, it can get really crazy and really chaotic and really stressful. So tell us about your book.
Kristi: he book is really fun because it started when I actually only had two kids. Way back, like you know go in that time machine, like flashback, whatever it’s called. The Wayback, so if we go back in time to when I just had two kids. I think Grant and Blake were only four and three at the time, I was asked to speak at our women’s event. So I was like okay what would you like me to talk on? “Can you please talk about home organization?” And I remember thinking, Okay, that’s weird, I know I’m a little, I love it and I thrive on it but I’m not perfect at it.
Kristi: So I sat down and I really tried to think through. What gives people the perception that I’m so organized? I started asking friends too, why do people think… Because anytime I asked a girlfriend, what are some descriptions of me, what do you feel are some of my strengths? Organization always came up. And I’m like you guys have been to my house, it is messy sometimes. I feel like when I’m overwhelmed, I do, I let things go. And that’s okay. And what I’ve learned is that is absolutely the right thing to do, because if you really truly need a break. Unless you’re really crazy like me and need to get in there and get a project done, and that’s wonderful.
Kristi: What I discovered is, it’s my systems. So I would have people over for a play date one day and the house would be torn apart with all the little kids. And the next day, I would be hosting an event and people would be like, “What happened here? Were you up all night cleaning?” I’m like, “No, I just put things away and I just have this little system for doing this.” And they’re like, “Explain that.”
Kristi: And on top of all of that my husband has been traveling for 20 years of our marriage. I think when people were trying to figure out how I did things. That was kinda where it started. So long story short, I sat down and I wrote out this talk “M.O.M – Master Organizer of Mayhem”, and I came up with 10 rules. And they’re kind of like this foundation for things that I’ve noticed have to be in place for me to feel most organized. It doesn’t mean that you have to have everything going on at the same time. But they are key components to how to be organized.
Kristi: Decluttering is one and asking for help. So there’s a lot of these core foundational things that I put in the book. And what’s fun is, that from 12-13 years ago when I first gave this talk, the rules are exactly the same. I changed the order, but the rules are exactly the same. So it’s been neat to see how when continuing to apply them as my family has grown they have continued to work.
Kristi: And the second phase of the book is actually a lot. I share some systems that I put in place as well.
Yvette: I definitely want to talk about the 10 foundational rules that you have set. But you also talk in there about setting a good foundation first. How do we do that as moms?
Kristi: Well, a big key part is, a good foundation is really looking at all the 10 rules and looking through it. But the key is, I feel like we need to start be redefining organization. Because unlike 12 years ago, we have so much being thrown at us daily. We have an onslaught from TV shows. HGTV has wonderful shows, that I personally love watching. But you know when you look at a house that Joanna Gains or the Property Brothers, or whoever it is that is doing the space, they’ve completely cleaned it out, remodeled it and made it look perfect.
Kristi: We’ve got Instagram that is so focused on these beautiful rooms. There’s Facebook, Pinterest, all these things that we didn’t use to have. I mean Martha Stewart was my only person breathing down my neck, “Be perfect like me!”.
Kristi: That’s what we feel like. So often people associate organization with perfection. That’s not it at all. Organization to me is creating more efficiency in your home life, so you can maximize your time with your family. As well as for other priorities. So I like to help people figure out what their priorities are, so that it gives you that motivation, because everyone need to know their Why.
Kristi: If you’re totally happy in your mess and chaos, the God bless you! You be happy in your mess and chaos. If it’s not effecting you or anyone else in your family, and you have your systems down. Then that’s working! But if you are feeling stressed and people in your home… I have had some moms come up to me like I need this! My husband and I are fine with it but, they might have a special needs child who needs structure. So they have had to learn to get organized. Much like I had to learn to get organized.
Yvette: Let me ask you a question about that, though because I have often to friend’s houses and I have friends on both ends of the spectrum. You know, those whose houses are always neat and tidy and they have systems in place. They have an order of their life and typically those are the people who like to purge. Of course, I’m sure that’s one of your 10 rules.
Kristi: No, it’s not my gifting, decluttering is. I have friends that are very gifted at it.
Yvette: I’ve gotten really good at decluttering. We just simply don’t have space. That’s a whole different topic.
Yvette: But I have friends that who have just very organized, clean homes, and I have other friends who their house is always just a mess, all the time. I feel like, both of those friends, but typically those friends whose houses are typically messy. As soon as you walk through the door, they might say that they are comfortable with it, saying we’re okay, we’re okay living like this. But as soon as you walk through that door, they apologize for the mess in their house, almost always. “I’m sorry my house is a mess.” And I’m like look, I did not come to see your house, I came to see you. I really don’t care if your house is a mess. But I know because of their response that it is something that is stressful to them.
Yvette: And a lot of people simply don’t know how to declutter, how to organize, how to get rid of the chaos in their lives. Let’s go through some of the 10 foundational rules. Aby what are you thinking?
Aby: I’m thinking before we get into that, what I love that you said is going back to, we’re all homeschool moms here. And I love how you said it’s not a one size fits all. It really is what works best for your family. What are your husband’s needs. I might be okay with one thing. I just love how you’re saying it. We’re all created uniquely and differently, and so what’s chaos for you might not be chaos for me. That’s what I’m really liking about the direction your book goes, it is not a “you have to do this the way the Clover household does this in order to be the exact mom and wife Kristi is”. But its really just some basic fundamental concepts that really can work in anybody’s home.
Aby: That’s like there’s not one sized box curriculum for every single homeschool family. It’s something unique for each of us. So I’m super excited about that then because this book is for everyone.
Kristi: It is, and that’s why my first rule is glean and tweak. Because we can learn from other people and learn from Pinterest and learn from other books out there, you can learn from this book. But unless you tweak it for the season that you’re in, and your personal family… I have friends that, if I cleaned and organized my house and you walked into my house and said “Wow this is perfect!”. I still have friends that would walk in and be like “This is stressing me out”. There’s people who can’t handle anything on the counter. I’m all about let’s put a knickknack here, not to an extreme, I’ve seen them where it’s a little extreme. I have friends that, they just need that. But I don’t have to live according to that.
Kristi: My husband likes clean counters, but he just doesn’t want all the Kristi piles there. That is what it is. And now my children have learned how to have their own piles and it’s not good.
Yvette: You’ve talked about your first rule, because you have 10 foundational rules that can help moms figure out how to get rid of the chaos in their lives. And the first one you’ve mentioned is glean and tweak, let’s talk about some of the others.
Kristi: Okay so it can be anything and 10 rules makes about 2/3 of the book. So the 10 rules are glean and tweak, figuring out your top priorities. In that chapter what I think is important is that I go at it from two different angles. I want you to figure out personally, what is your schedule look like? What are your priorities as a family? Prioritize based on that, schedule your life around that. Because the problem is, if you don’t have cushion in your life and you’re saying yes to everything, you won’t have time to get organized. It’s going to continue to sit at the back as a back burner thing.
Kristi: I try to talk people into giving themselves some margin, not making their family “go-go-go”. I feel like as parents, especially homeschool parents, we are horrible at this. We feel like we have to give our kids everything in the maybe 18 years, 17-18-19 years we will have them in our house, in our schools. So we feel like oh we need to give them every experience possible. Oh my goodness, I think about my own personal life and I have learned more as an adult than I ever did as a kid. And not to knock my education, which by the way was public school. They will continue to learn and grow, we don’t have to put it all in the first few years of their lives, so it’s okay to say no to a lot of things.
Kristi: So I try to talk people into saying no to as many things as possible, saying yes to things that are going to help your family thrive the most. And then, looking at it from the standpoint of what are your house priorities. So what’s driving you crazy in your house. If you’re married talk to your spouse, what is driving him crazy.
Aby: It’s all my son’s room.
Kristi: Everyone of us would say it’s my son’s room.
Aby: Just had to throw that in there.
Kristi: You do it, and you know my advice is, close the door.
Aby: Oh I love that! Really? Until the smell starts to waif out. Then the smell comes out. I like that, just shut the door. That is freeing Kristi. I feel like you just freed me and every other mom like me.
Kristi: Well, I mean you do have to get in there from time to time. It’s truly something that is an eyesore, close the door so you don’t have to deal with it. When you have time, make time make that your [inaudible 00:16:36]
Kristi: One of the other rules is tackle your worst project. And if that’s honestly what’s driving everyone crazy in your house. Then you have to go through and help him declutter. And the key with kids is you have to teach them the systems. You have to teach them where to put things. I always laugh because moms will go through and they’ll organize the whole house but they’re like “Oh my kids leave it messy!”. And I’m like do they know where toys go though? “No I have to help them”. I’m like teach them where the toys go, or you don’t have a system.
Kristi: You don’t create systems for other people based on how you process things. You have to create systems for the people in your house that work for them. So that’s the crazy thing, you can be the most logical person in the house, in the world, and if it doesn’t work for them. Everyone’s different, I have a very neat child. I can trust that his room is, in fact if we have too much pounding and grinding and whatever they’re doing down below me happening in the house, I go to his room to do any kind of video or audio, because I always know that its always going to be perfect. And that is just him, that’s the way that he is wired. He thrives in that situation. He knows how to take care of it. Then I have other children. They don’t quite get it.
Aby: And I think that’s where the master organizer comes in, because you’re the master of finding what works for each kid. What are the systems that work for them, not just what is the system that works for me. I appreciate that, because my system is obviously the best system in the house. But each of my kids have a different system, so I like how you said that we need to find what systems work for them and then implement that into their space.
Kristi: Yeah, and I literally just ran into that in our own home, because I have a chore system that totally works for me. I know visually, like that is what they’re supposed to do, but for my little kids, it’s just too complicated for them.
Yvette: You talked about teaching our kids how to do this alongside of us, because we’ve talked about this with Ginger Hubbard, and we talked about coming alongside a child and training them on how to do things. Because often times as moms and dads, we just assume when we tell our child to go clean their room that they know how to do it, because we know how to do it so it should make sense to them. When we say go load the dishwasher or do the laundry we just assume that because we know it they understand it. And I think that’s oftentimes what causes so much frustration between us and our children is that we are saying go do this and they’re like No. Then they don’t do it and then they get reprimanded for it because they’re not obeying. In reality its sometimes maybe because they’re lazy, often times I think it’s because they simply really have not been taught how to do it.
Yvette: And I mean it may be with some kids, you know you said you have your son, he’s just wired that way. He is, just by nature, an organizer and he’s very clean. And I have one of those. I have my oldest, she loves to organize things and she does it for fun. And my youngest, not so much. She’s not uncontrollable but we have to come alongside them and say let me show you how to fold your clothes and how to put them in your drawer. Let me show you how to hang your shirts. And then practice it with them, don’t just show them one time. We can often, take it off the hanger, okay put it back on the hanger now. You can even make it into a game. Let’s fold the clothes again, now let’s throw them all over the floor and let’s refold them and put them back in the drawer. You know two or three times so you know that they understand what it is you’re asking them to do.
Yvette: And then if they do it right then you really know, okay you really understand this. And then if they don’t obey then that’s a different topic.
Aby: I think that’s what’s great about homeschool moms too, we have all day to do this. They’re not showing up at the front door after school and sports at 5 o’clock and we’re trying to get dinner. So, we’re very blessed that we can bring them alongside of us as we are cleaning the kitchen, as we’re cleaning up the toys and they get to do it with us. What are some of the things that you outsource to your children, that you delegate to your kids to do in your home?
Kristi: Oh you’re going to love this, this one is my secret one, no kids at the door, when my kids read this someday they’re going to be like “What!”. My number one tip is work yourself out of a job that you hate. So my kids learned how to do the dishes and the trash, because I don’t like dishes and trash. They also learned how to do laundry. Because number one, dishes and laundry those are crazy things that continue to repeat and repeat, so it made sense for them to learn that. Those are my three least favorite things to do. I am fine, I’m weird, we have a little floor vac that we use on the floors not just on our carpet but on our actual hard floors. It’s a little therapeutic for me, I kind of like it. Counters, I like cleaning them, I don’t mind those jobs. And of course, because I’m finding such joy in them my kids are like “Can I do it too!?” And I’m like no, go do the dishes first.
Kristi: We all have those little things and it really depends on number one, what do you need to have done around the house? What do you need help with? And I wrote, I think it’s just a blog post, but we happened to use a hashtag that said chore systems. And I laughed because I had two people, I think it might be the same person with two handles on Instagram, we’re like “That is child labor, you should not be making your children do the work that you should be doing.” And I didn’t respond, because that’s where my snark thing just comes in.
Yvette: You should have responded with “Practice makes perfect!”
Aby: That should be your hashtag.
Kristi: They live here so they have to.
Yvette: It’s a life skill.
Kristi: It is. My daughter cleans the bathrooms and she earned that, because she told me, “Mom, I feel like the bathroom could be cleaned more often.” And there was a little corner that I missed, and I haven’t cleaned the bathroom since she said that, ever. That became her job, and blessedly she’s a little OCD so I have to clean this bathroom in town.
Yvette: Oh I love that.
Kristi: I also think you cue in, you’re like if that’s bothering you, to your child, that is a job that you can take over in the household. And if you can’t find your socks, you just became the sock folder.
Kristi: I laugh because I don’t lose socks. I’ve never totally understood that lost sock thing, until having kids. It wasn’t even the two older boys, it was when it just got crazy and one of my kiddos, he is, we call him “Mr. Fun” because he is all about fun. And he does not intentionally disobey, it’s just that if something fun and shiny is happening, then he needs to be a part of it. So, it’s like we have to make sure we are helping him to narrow his vision, no wait finish this and then move on to the next thing.
Kristi: So it’s really hard. So yeah, I don’t remember what the original question was at some point. Help them to find what needs to be done and what do you want to work yourself out of a job on. And I loved your point too Aby, is you know seeing what they naturally have a tendency toward or what they are bothered by.
Yvette: Since you were just talking about laundry, I know you have a few systems for laundry in your home. Share those with us, because I know that for homeschool moms, especially if you have multiple kids, that can just be a drag. I mean it really can consume so much of your time
Aby: Because when it’s done it starts again.
Aby: I’m so excited.
Yvette: Okay ready?
Aby: Yeah, I got my pen, I got my paper, I’m ready.
Kristi: Well I have an entire chapter on my hacks, but I will say this, that with laundry you do have to figure out what works best for you. I have heard so many different ways. There’s so many ways to do laundry as far as some people say, do a little bit everyday, that would drive me bonkers. I want to have a break from doing laundry. I cannot do it every day, then it really would pile up because if you get behind or life throws you any kind of a curve ball, your laundry is going to be missed.
Kristi: So what works for our family, especially since we have 7 people, is that everyone gets a day of the week, and my husband and I have one day together. I still do both of our laundry together, because he was traveling so much. Now, he’s not traveling. He’ll do the laundry sometimes, but even then I’m like oh wait I’ll just do it. I know what doesn’t go in the dryer and I know that this is how this is going to work.
Kristi: So, backing up a little, each person has their own day. What’s beautiful about that it creates a natural accountability, because if you don’t do your laundry and get it out of the washer, dryer and get it into your room to at least start the folding process. Someone else is coming behind you and your laundry is going to get moved, because they are ready to come and do it. So that has worked really well for us.
Yvette: That is brilliant.
Kristi: Because of that natural accountability. My other thing that is key, if you are doing that kind of laundry.
Kristi: So I can even talk through, I have a SMART, SMART is one of my little acronyms for five laundry hacks. So the M in SMART is mesh bag, they should be your best friend. Because if anything needs to go from the washer to like being hung up, you put it in a mesh bag. So that if somebody is moving your clothes from the washer to the dryer, the rule in the house is mesh bags do not go in the dryer. I do that with my husband and I too, so that if he is doing a load, he knows that doesn’t go in the dryer. So it’s not just for delicates.
Aby: Oh my gosh. I’m so excited about this. So for example, say Joey has a Tuesday day, as soon as he dries, he folds, he puts away his own clothes, he’s not doing like everybody’s clothes on Tuesday right? It’s his own clothes on Tuesday?
Kristi: It’s his own clothes on Tuesday.
Aby: So then, if on Friday he fails to do that special shirt, you say hey sorry you wait until Tuesday?
Kristi: No. Well…
Aby: Like you can cut in? You can share if you need?
Yvette: It’s called Laundry Grace.
Kristi: Laundry Grace, that’s right. And we aren’t sticklers on the day, all the time. So like if we just got back from Hawaii, we got back on a Sunday, you gotta be flexible. There’s days when suddenly we have three people that need to get their laundry done, because life has been crazy, we were out all day and didn’t have a chance to get laundry going. Then you know, we’re going to have to double up.
Aby: How young do you start this? Is your six year old doing it?
Kristi: My six year old is doing her laundry. She still needs help with the folding and putting away. She can do it but she doesn’t do it all the time, because she gets flustered, it takes her awhile. And Everyone’s different. My oldest, he does it all.
Kristi: One of my other things is, I truly believe in small loads. The larger the load, the more apt you are to let it sit there and not get it done. So it’s really important to have smaller loads. Which is why, again, having a day, that means everyone should be doing their clothes weekly. So my oldest, he was getting in the habit of doing huge loads, because of course his clothes are big too. He’s not in itty bitty little clothes anymore. So he was in the habit of waiting two weeks to do his if he just got busy. What was happening is, his clothes just weren’t getting as clean. And I had to explain to him again, small loads, clothes get cleaner. Everyone tells me I’m crazy to get my laundry done all in one day. But I’m like washer, dryer, fold really quick, washer, dryer, fold really quick. And then I pile it in order, so I’m literally just putting it into the drawer.
Aby: If you’re doing everyone has a day, you’re just doing it once a week. So it’s not stacking up, because you know that it’s just a once a week. That’s brilliant. Whats another, okay one more laundry hack before we have to move in.
Kristi: One more laundry hack, okay. So this is my rule breaker laundry hack for kids, have them wash everything on cold. I don’t buy a lot of white, if they have anything that’s white, they throw it in my whites divider. And I say white because people normally do, whites, brights and darks, but we actually do cold, warm and hot as our divider. So it’s kinda two laundry hacks. Divide by temperature and have all your kids wash their clothes on cold. If they have items that need to be washed more thoroughly, then you just do a separate wash with that, or throw them in one more time. Because quite frankly, I need to make sure they know what they are doing and if I have them, who knows if that black sock is going to sneak in with those white tank tops or whatever it is. I just don’t deal with that so everything gets washed on cold in our house, not my clothes but the little kids. I mean my oldest, sorry I mean my second oldest. he does do two loads, because he does have enough white clothes that he’s separating those.
Yvette: Let’s talk about a few more of the rules that you talk about in the book. So we’ve talked about laundry, we’ve talked about glean and tweak, we’ve talked about priorities.
Kristi: Well here’s a big one. The buzz is always on decluttering and everyone’s talking about KonMari method, and you know Marie Kondo. Her little spark joy, which I think is fun, if you hate something then why are you keeping it. But I don’t love, I mean my plunger does not spark joy for me but it is a necessity. I wrote that somewhere and I had someone, I have interesting people who follow me on social media, because this person was just like, “but my plunger sparks joy when I need it.” I’m like, no even when I need it I’m like, blah.
Aby: Yeah, the whole situation, there’s no joy in any of that situation.
Kristi: I don’t understand that, but it’s all good. My approach with the decluttering process, I call it a Four Leaf Method, because we have four categories, mostly. It’s the traditional what are you going to keep, so what’s gonna go back into your home. That’s when you want to make sure you’re categorizing to organize those things that you are keeping and keeping like things together. Your toss pile, things that just need to go in the trash. Whether it is just trash or toys that are broken that really don’t need to go anywhere other than in the trash can. Then also, we have a sell pile, so if there’s big items that need to be sold, those are going to be that sell pile.
Kristi: ut the key pile for us is, the blessings pile. The blessing pile is the traditional donation pile. But what’s helped us, it’s like some mental road block that changed for everyone in the house. That if this item is not useful or a blessing to us, then maybe it can bless someone else. It helps when you have that thing that you’re like, “But I spent money on that! I should keep it.” Why? If you spent money on that and it’s in great condition, see if a friend want it. And if they don’t want it, give it to Salvation Army.
Kristi: Because I’ve heard stories, in fact it was Kathi Lipp, she’s another organizer. She’s written a lot of books on organization and decluttering, and has another book coming out, I think in February on the topic. And I heard her speak recently, and she talked about how when she was really going through a hard time, she went into a Goodwill or Salvation Army, and her son really needed a new pair of shes and he was really bummed because he wanted this one kind of shoe. And they happened to find, in Salvation Army, the right size of the exact shoe. She was like it was God’s blessing on us. I think, that if that person hadn’t taken the time to donate that. You’re kinda giving God room to be like, “I can use your stuff.”
Kristi: If you don’t need your stuff, get rid of it. So if it’s not doing me any good in our house. Then let the lord use it somewhere else. And who knows, if it’s in horrible condition, maybe Salvation Army is just going to throw it away. But still, I just think it’s important, and it helps my kids to realize if we’re not playing with it, we can bless somebody else. It’s just neat to see how just changing that mentality of, this can bless someone else. So like when we got rid of a ton of our baby clothes, I literally sent an email out to all of my friends and we made this mountain, it was taller than most of my kids, of baby clothes. And my friends came over, and we had all of these babies that were being born, and so people were just coming over and grabbing them. It was great and it was fun and it was crazy, at church I see everybody in my kids’ clothes, and I’m like oh that’s so sweet. It was just fun to see them being reused.
Aby: I love that. I think it’s good for kids too because, like with my son, we talked to him. Well, he’s a boy so he’s hard on things. And we talk to him a lot too, when you’re done with things, we want to be stewards of the things that God has given us. Because when you’re done with it… We don’t want to give anyone else our junk, but if we’re stewards with our things. Then when you’re done with that, it’s in really great condition to bless somebody else. So it also, just inspires us and encourages us to take care of the things God has given us. Even if we don’t see them long term for our family. Then they can bless another family.
Yvette: And I love what that teaches kids, because we want to teach our kids that they can be content no matter what. And I think often times, especially in our society, we feel like our kids need more and more, we have to get them the newest, and the best and the biggest thing that’s out. That’s why Black Friday, that’s why people stand at in line for 24 hours before the big sale or even longer sometimes, even days, a week! It’s crazy to me. Why are we teaching our kids that? Be content in all things. And when we show them that the things that they have, that they are no longer using can be a blessing to someone else, I think that’s huge. And we have done that with our kids as well, since they were really little. What friend do you have that this might be a blessing to, or often just donating it, because it’s stuff we don’t use.
Yvette: I know moms, not that I’ve never done this, I have done this before, but I know moms that will sneak things out. But then I think you’re missing that opportunity to teach your kids to be a blessing to others. And not just to be a blessing to others, but to realize that they don’t need to have all these things to make them happy and to have joy in their lives.
Aby: Say, I’m storing up our treasures in Heaven.
Yvette: Yes. We have a few minutes left, so lets run through just a few others and then what we don’t get through, of course people just need to get the book.
Kristi: You need to get the book, because it’s so fun. Oh thank you. It was so much fun to write. It was fun to tell all my stories. I tried to make it playful and fun and just like we’re sitting down and having a cup of coffee. That’s kind of my approach to writing, I try to make every book I write feel like that.
Kristi: Okay, so a few other rules. So this is, a big one, especially for moms, especially for homeschool moms. One of the stories I share in the book on this rule has everything to do with a homeschool moment, and that is ask for help. I think so many moms try to be super heroes and do everything in their own strength, or even if they’re leaning on the Lord, he will give you strength but there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done. So I like to encourage people to ask for help, and when people offer help you have to say yes.
Kristi: So one of the stories I share in the book is all about when we just had our 4th, and I had a bunch of friends who had mommy’s helpers coming in. And I’m like no I can handle this. And Steve was traveling like crazy and we were homeschooling, it was just so much, and I was just kind of at my wits end. I was trying to get Ashlyn, my 4th to sleep and she just wasn’t sleeping well. I just have a technique that use with the kids to, sleep training, to get them to [inaudible 00:38:01] to sleep, and it is hard on me the first several nights, trying to get them to kind of recreate that sleep cycle. I think she had just gone through a teething thing or something, but I was exhausted.
Kristi: So I decided to do what so many of us do is, ask for prayer. “Please pray for me. I have a definite need but I’m not going to say it. I’m just going to ask for prayer.” So at the end, I had a girlfriend say, “Kristi, I have a daughter who is trying to earn money for ballet camp, she would love to come over. Where do you live?” We lived three minutes apart and had no clue. It was the biggest blessing. Her daughter would come over and what was so funny is that so often when we are getting, my friends are like, “I have the mommy’s helper come over and play with the kids while I go run errands.” Well that’s fine if I really need the time alone to just get out of the house. But I did that from time to time, but I would often have my mommy’s helpers come over and help with the things I didn’t want to do, so that I could play with my kids.
Kristi: You can use help however you want to. And I’m always really upfront too, we have cleaners. I love my cleaners, I help them when they get here, and I help them when they leave. And they come every other week, and the day they come, man by that evening you can’t tell they were here. Unless you’re looking deep, because sometimes it’s just that whole Murphy’s Law of when I have a clean floor someone’s going to spill something. It works no matter if you have cleaners or not, if you clean the floor, your child will spill milk everywhere. It helps because it means, all at one time my house is clean.
Kristi: We had a season where we were hosting two different events. I was hosting our Co-Op and I was hosting our Bible study, and my husband was adamant, “I know you. You are going to want the house to be tidy, and you’re going to want it to be clean. We need to have the cleaners come on the off week.” We didn’t have the budget for it, it wasn’t so much a budget, we didn’t want to spend for another cleaning. I just asked them, for this much money will you do the kitchen, the bathrooms, just like the key things I knew I needed done, because I knew that’s where people were going to be. And they were like, “Oh yeah we can do that.” And they were already in our neighborhood.
Kristi: So again, ask! If you’re not asking, you’ll never have the solutions. I just think it’s so important for people to see where they could use help and get it.
Yvette: Yeah, I think so too. We sadly are out of time, but I would love to continue on and do this for the next two hours, but just tell me to get to work.
Kristi: Yes, we have lives. And I have to go get my grays covered. We were joking about that beforehand, I have to go get my hair done because I have spray paint on my grays now.
Yvette: Is it like a spray paint you go and get at Lowe’s? You just go to Lowe’s and get some brown spray paint that matches your hair color.
Kristi: I laugh because I had a girlfriend tell me about it, and I was like “Are you kidding me?” And she’s like, “No it’s a real thing.” It’s like L’Oreal or something like that, I get it off of Amazon, so yeah. I’ll share the link with you, I’m telling you, you got to do what you have to do. I’m telling you 40 takes over and you got to roll with it.
Yvette: I haven’t hit the grays yet, but I have hit the eyesight. I now have to wear reading glasses, which I didn’t have to wear before and I look at small print things like “I can’t see!”. So in order to read your book, I had to put my reading glasses on, but it was well worth it.
Yvette: So you guys, get this book.
Aby: Where can we get it Kristi?
Yvette: It’s fantastic.
Kristi: Thank you. You can get it anywhere books are sold. If your physical bookstore doesn’t have it, you can ask them and they will get it in. It’s on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, everywhere. It really is.
Yvette: We of course will put links in the show notes to it. It is called, “M.O.M – Master Organizer of Mayhem” by Kristi Clover. And Kristi, thank you. You have written a few other books, I know I would definitely love to have you on the podcast again to talk about some of your other stuff you have going on. You have got all kinds of great encouragements, so I love it. So maybe it won’t take us a year to have you back on, right?
Kristi: Life is a little, we’ve been told two more weeks and the house is done.
Aby: How long have they been telling you two more weeks?
Kristi: They’ve been great. They are keeping right within their timeline, so we’re very happy.
Yvette: You are a blessing, thank you for using what God has taught you and shown you to encourage me as a mom and Aby and to encourage all of our listeners. Because you really do have a gift for organization but not just for doing it for yourself but helping others to learn how to do it as well. And it is doable, so for those listening who just feel overwhelmed, truly, honestly get this book because it really will help you. Because it helped me to see things that I just couldn’t see them inside of my little box. So I would read a chapter and go well I can do that. And it really did change my perspective and my habits of doing things around our home. So this is a book that does the same thing as that. So thank you Kristi, you are a blessing.
“I’ve taught at seven different universities now and I’ve always had one colleague in every English department who looks forward to teaching homeschool kids. One, because they were smart and two, because they saw it as their mission, as one put, to kick the Jesus out of them. So the universities recognize that these kids are smart and they want them because these are kids that don’t drop class, they don’t swear or cut classes. They turn their homework and they say, “yes ma’am,” “no sir.” They like that. But then they want to socially engineer these kids. And so they’ll take them. The universities want them, but a lot of the professors want them for very different reasons.” – Dr. Duke Pesta
Dr. Duke Pesta is the Director of FreedomProject Academy, host of the Dr. Duke Show, and a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. His experiences as an educational reformer, university professor, and high school teacher, uniquely qualify him to address the current state of education in our country. He speaks across the nation on topics including the necessity of homeschooling, the decline of morality and critical thinking in the public schools, and the myriad of ways that colleges and universities indoctrinate students.
Dr. Duke is one of America’s foremost authorities on the dangers of Common Core and the federal takeover of education. He hosts A weekly program about education—The Dr. Duke Show—which covers educational issues from preschool through graduate school.
Yvette Hampton, host of The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, had the privilege of talking with Dr. Duke about the influence that culture and churches have had on today’s youth, and how we, as parents, can best prepare our children for the secular worldview ideology that they are being exposed to on a daily basis. They also discussed how most homeschooled students fare in a university setting.
Yvette Hampton: We were visiting Heidi St. John this past summer, filming for Schoolhouse Rocked and actually, while we were at her house was when your episode on her show aired. She had talked about you and she’s just so impressed with who you are and the knowledge that you have of the public education system and all things going on in culture, having to do with education. Of course, you know a whole lot about many, many other things, not just education. So, I heard you on her podcast after she had spoken of you and I thought, man, we’ve got to get this guy on the podcast.
Talk about what you do because, I like that you’re labeled kind of the educational reformer and that’s really what Schoolhouse Rocked is. The full title of the movie is Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution! And it really is a revolution because we need to reform education not just in our country, but worldwide. Why are we in need of a reformation right now when it comes to education?
Dr. Duke Pesta: Well, I mean, anybody who’s involved with education who is not trying to reform it as part of the problem. We have an educational system that is getting worse and worse. I mean, because you asked me in one word, one sentence to explain the major problem. It is the following. That our progressive educrats, it’s the progressive left who’s been in charge of our public schools, our colleges who are going on 50, 60 years now. And what they have succeeded in doing now over the last 25 years in particular is transforming the way we educate our kids, whether it’s public schools from kindergarten through high school, whether it’s our universities, to educate them primarily first for left-wing ideological purposes. What you and I would call the social justice movement.
Dr. Duke: We have relegated academic achievement, merit, hard work, we have relegated real serious study to all of these political objectives of the left, which is why our kids know less and less and less the farther they go along but are much more politicized. So you’ve got these kids on college campuses who can’t tell you who their senator is, who don’t know the three branches of government, can tell you nothing about the constitution. Yet they know America’s a racist, sexist, evil place and that capitalism and free markets have to go. What we’ve seen happen is a hijacking of the schools by ideology and leftist politics at the expense of real learning. And it’s really starting to transform this country into something very different than what it was meant to be.
Yvette: Yeah. It’s all about indoctrination and no longer about education. And that’s a scary place to be. And you talk about being involved in and reformation on the end of education. And we just got back from a camping trip, actually, yesterday and I was talking to one of the dads there and we had such an interesting conversation because we were talking about as homeschoolers, sometimes, we feel like, well, our kids are protected and so we’re good. We can just close that door. We don’t worry about the education of our kids because we’ve taken it into our own hands, which obviously is what we stand on as a family. It’s why we’re making a movie about it. It’s why we do a podcast, and a blog, and all that stuff because we feel like it’s important for parents to take that role of educating our children.
Yvette: However, it can’t stop there. It needs to continue on. And we were talking about our tax dollars are going to pay, they’re paying for all of these other children to be indoctrinated, and these children are the ones who are the future of our country, our future political leaders, our future doctors, lawyers. And we’re seeing this crazy shift. I mean, sometimes, I feel, and I know you feel this way too, I’m sure, like I’m in the Twilight zone. I hear the things that are happening in universities and in the schools, private schools, public schools, public schools K through 12. We’re from California and I, I literally cannot wrap my mind around the things that are being taught to these children. How did we get here? How did we get to this point where people are having the freedom, because it really has become a freedom for them, to be able to indoctrinate our kids with these horrible, horrific, wicked ideas and have turned so far away from the truth of God? How did we get to this place? And what do we do? How do we get back to where we came from?
“How we got here is really kind of basic, it seems to me. Our churches have stopped fighting this battle. The churches have … I argue that the institutional Christianity, church Christianity is on life support in this country because they don’t want to lose that 501(c)(3), I have had pastors who haveve told me, yeah, gee, Dr. Pesta, we’d love to have you speak here, but I’ve got four public school teachers in my faculty. I can’t upset them.”
Dr. Duke: Well, start with the first part of your question. It was very clear that Christ in the Gospels wants us to be in the world but not of the world. On one hand, we have to protect our kids, our families, our communities in a Christian way. On the other hand, we have to turn outward to a corrupt culture. We can’t ignore it or it’s going to swallow us up. We have to prioritize protecting the faith but we also have to reach out into the world. And so many homeschool moms and dads, I think you’re right, they think that their kids are safe, that by pulling out of the schools, they fix the problem. They really haven’t because not only are we paying for it with our taxpayer dollars, but we are sowing the seeds of our own destruction because as these kids become more common, still many more, like 9.5 out of every 10 school kids are public school kids.
Dr. Duke: And so, as they become more indoctrinated, more secular, they’re convinced now that God was never meant to be a part of the culture, that our constitution somehow banishes God from public spaces. These are the lies our kids are being told. And as they get older and older, and the generation that leaves college becomes the millennials, they’re … 54% of millennials believe in some kind of cult behavior, right? They believe in tarot cards, they believe in astrology, 54% of them believe in sort of a cult spirituality and less than 50% actually believe in God. And that’s going to come back to bite us. You and me can homeschool our kids, but will your kids be able to homeschool theirs We’ve already seen California, the state you ran away from, wisely got out of, California’s trying to put the screws to homeschoolers. They’re trying to force state agents into homeschool families to kind of watch and see what’s going on, and this is beginning to spread. So that’s the first part of your question, I think.
Dr. Duke: And how we got here is really kind of basic, it seems to me. Our churches have stopped fighting this battle. The churches have … I argue that the institutional Christianity, church Christianity is on life support in this country because they don’t want to lose that 501(c)(3), I have had pastors who haveve told me, yeah, gee, Dr. Pesta, we’d love to have you speak here, but I’ve got four public school teachers in my faculty. I can’t upset them. And so all of this temerity on the refusal of our Christian pastors to actually wade into this, to take a side … because if they were doing that, if our Christian pastors were doing it, they would ultimately be telling the moms and dads, you got to get your kid out of these schools, you’re not going to be able to fix them. Sorry for being long winded, but the answer to your question is you got to get them out. If we’re going to fix any of this, many, many more American kids have to be educated outside of that system and it’s happening but not fast enough.
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Yvette: Yes, I agree with you completely. We often have people ask us, we’re trying to fundraise for this movie just to get through post-production. And we have had many, many people ask us, well, you know, have you gone to churches? And we’ve said, we’ve talked to pastors before and churches will not touch this movie because it is a movie about homeschooling. And it’s the same exact thing is that they don’t want to offend people because they’ve got people on their leadership board or, elders, deacons, whatever, some pastors who are part of their church who have their kids in public school and they don’t want to ruffle their feathers. They don’t want to. And even people in the congregation as well, they don’t want to upset people. And I don’t understand that because I’m thinking, well, if you’re standing up and you’re teaching the truth of God’s word, we often talk about Luke 6:40. It says, “The student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
Yvette: Well, who’s teaching our kids and are we the ones who are coming alongside and teaching them and discipling their hearts? Again, Deuteronomy six, we talk about that all the time. You know, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and teach this to your children when they rise and when they sleep, and when they walk about their day.” We can’t do these things if … we can’t teach our children the way that they need to be taught if they’re not with us. And when we’re sending them to a public institution, a government school for 40 hours a week, they’re being taught by someone else who is not their parent and who doesn’t have their best interest in mind.
Yvette: Now, there are teachers, of course, you and I both know, I mean you’ve taught in the public school system. There are teachers who love kids, genuinely love their students, but their hands are tied and there’s nothing that they can do about it. What are you seeing? Because obviously, California, I know a whole lot about what’s going on in California because that’s home for us. What are you seeing as far as what’s happening in the California and kind of whole Left Coast part of the world? How is that infiltrating into the rest of the nation and what changes are you seeing even in these so-called conservative states and towns?
“They do not like freedom and liberty. They don’t like the constitution. They don’t like American history and values. And Christianity is at the core of what they don’t like. They see Christianity in 250 years of American history, 2000 years of Western culture as the root of all evil in terms of repression and backwardness.”
Dr. Duke: Yeah, to start with where you started, it always amazes me when I read the Gospels. Christ spoke to the power, he spoke to the churches, basically, spoke to the synagogues, told them the truth, it made them uncomfortable and then you had the great divide. And here we are, the heirs of Christ, and we won’t speak to the culture. We won’t speak to the moms and dads in our parish, our constituency, because, hey, they got kids in the wrong place. And if priests and ministers, if pastors can’t tell their parents, you’re sending your kids to not just a godless place but an anti-God place because you fear your 501(c)(3), that shows you the state we’re in, right? That our biggest ally should be biblical Christians, should be Bible-believing Christians. And when the ministers who lead those congregations will not stand up for the truth, then we really can’t be surprised where we are.
Dr. Duke: But you mentioned California and California, because there is so little opposition, what few Republicans remained in the state have been more or less completely elected out of office. It’s been a landslide for far-leftist politicians and this is of course fueled by a huge base of illegal immigrants, many of whom are finding ways to vote. And what’s happening is that there’s no balance here. There really are no longer any checks and balances in California because they got basically supermajorities to pass any radical agenda item they want to, they’re doing it. Then we have places like New York City where they pass these radical abortion laws where you’re allowed to abort babies while they’re in the process of being born. And so the left has run away and then we know what the progressive left is. They’re atheist or secularist. They are very sympathetic to communism.
Dr. Duke: They do not like freedom and liberty. They don’t like the constitution. They don’t like American history and values. And Christianity is at the core of what they don’t like. They see Christianity in 250 years of American history, 2000 years of Western culture as the root of all evil in terms of repression and backwardness. So we’re seeing this problem. And the problem with California is that there are a lot of states in the union that aren’t as progressive, that still have more of a balance and legislature who are using California as an excuse to do it themselves. And the places like Massachusetts, and New Jersey, and New York, and Chicago, the district of Chicago. So these big liberal cities are incorporating this stuff and using their power, the big cities and liberal states, to transform how state business has done as well. So this is spreading. It’s a virus. And what you see in California today, you’re going to see in Nebraska, you’re going to see in North Carolina tomorrow unless somebody turns this around.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right. As far as kids being in the public school system, we hear all the time, and we were just talking about this the other day, my husband and I. People will often say, well, our kids’ school is different. We live in a small town. We live in a conservative state. My child’s teacher is a Christian. Are there any kids who are safe anywhere in this country from being taught and indoctrinated with these godless ideas that they’re being indoctrinated with? Are they safe anywhere?
“It’s not terribly intellectual. They’re slipping in sexuality education into all the different classrooms. They’re using math, and science, and social studies, even physical education classes as a way of reinforcing a certain set of liberal, progressive values.”
Dr. Duke: I wouldn’t call them safe anywhere. I would say that some schools have gone farther down the rabbit hole than others. And of course, with this new Common Core scheme and the federalization of education, that starting first in the major cities in every state. So in Wisconsin, Milwaukee is gone. If you’ve got a big city in Wisconsin, the kids in Wisconsin are all getting the same diet of ideology. But in smaller towns, it hasn’t quite got there yet or hasn’t quite got there fully. But even still, even if your kids are in a relatively safe place, and it’s a small school, and there is still some oversight, the fundamental nature of the pedagogy, how they’re being taught, even non-religious subjects is really very screwy. It’s not terribly intellectual. They’re slipping in sexuality education into all the different classrooms. They’re using math, and science, and social studies, even physical education classes as a way of reinforcing a certain set of liberal, progressive values.
Dr. Duke: So, at the best, your kids are being pushed very hard left. At the worst, they’re being downright indoctrinated. So there is really no place. And what’s bad now is going to get worse. There’s no place where your kids can hide from this and that doesn’t even mention the data gathered how the feds are using your kids’ public schools to gather all sorts of private data, how they’re using your kids’ schools, your kids. Something called social emotional learning, SEL, social emotional learning, which is big all across the country where there are actually unqualified elementary school teachers are making psychological evaluations of your kids. That’s happening even in the safest of schools now and it’s dangerous.
Yvette: Yeah. Yeah. It really is. We have a friend who is just a wonderful Christian lady. She’s been teaching in the public school system in Northern California for probably 30 years, a very long time. Loves teaching. I believe she teaches kindergarten or first grade and she was telling me that last year, they had brought in so many books on the LGBT movement into the school library. And so though she is finding ways to not teach that in her classroom, the kids have access to those books. And so she did something that I thought was very clever and she said, I just checked out those books because as a teacher, she can check them out for the school year to quote-unquote use for her classroom. So she just checked out all of the books that she could find to get them out of the library. She obviously didn’t teach them in her classroom, but she was trying to do something so that the children, the kindergartners and, elementary school kids didn’t have access to those books.
Yvette: But like you said, I know these things are being taught and they’re being weaved into all of the curriculum. It’s not like they are just doing it, you know, here’s the sex ed class and you can opt out of it. It’s in everything. It’s in science, it’s in literature, it’s in grammar. I mean, they’re literally weaving it into everything that these kids are being taught. They’re very clever and intentional about it and it’s a scary place to be. How can parents prepare their kids? And I’m not talking just about homeschool parents, I’m talking about parents, homeschool parents, public school, private school parents. How can we prepare our kids for this culture war that we are in right now, not even entering, but we’re in a war right now. How can we prepare our kids as they’re growing into young adults and the future of our country? How can we help them?
Dr. Duke: Well, I mean, think about what you just said. I want to reiterate it. You have a well-meaning and incredibly brave young teacher in California who is evading the system to some degree. The entire library has been stocked with books that are harmful to these kids’ development and she’s checked them out. And that’s the best you’re going to get. She hasn’t protected her kids from that. In her classrooms, they don’t get it. But in other classrooms, they will. So even the best-case scenario, you see how dangerous it is. And so the way to prepare them, I say, I think I go back to what I said before. Number one is you’re praying with them two or three every night before they go to bed, if you take them to church on Wednesday and Sundays or you spend an hour every night doing Bible study, that pales in comparison to what they’re getting eight hours a day, nine months of the year. It is relentless.
Dr. Duke: So, the answer is our kids need an education. But they need an education that is our education. It is Christian based. It is Biblically-based. It is knowledge-based. They need to be able, these kids, and unfortunately because we’re attacking kids at younger and younger ages, in the public schools, they start this when they’re six and seven years old. We need to prepare our kids to answer those things. It’s not enough just as you teach the kids that God loves them and to teach them the moral values. That’s important. We’ve got to give them a reason to believe intellectually. So many of our kids, we homeschool them and they know the Bible, and they know their prayers, and they believe in their country, and they believe in God. And then they get to the university if you’ve homeschooled until high school. And then they meet really smart professors with PhDs after their name who don’t engage them on a biblical level, don’t engage them on a moral level.
Dr. Duke: That’s a battle they won’t win. Instead, they engage them on a rational level. All right, you know, prove to me your God exists. And they started hitting them with those kinds of questions. Our kids have to be able to rebut secular arguments. It’s not enough simply to be able to cite the Bible. And that’s an education they used to get. They used to get it before we corrupted the schools, they would get a sound logical education and then that would be reinforced by their faith. Now they’re getting an education that is hostile and absolutely the opposite of what their faith teaches them. And when they say that they’re not allowed to use the Bible, they can’t use scripture to prove their point. So every tool we give them is rendered moot by the professors. And so they dutifully line up.
Dr. Duke: Either they drop out or they fight and get lower grades. We’ve got to do a better job of, when I say giving them a Christian education, we’re handling the Bible stuff well. We’re not handling culture well. Why should you? Why is chastity better than libertinism? Why is humility in this culture, where it’s a total narcissistic self-esteem culture when it comes to education, why is humility perhaps the primary virtue Christ witnesses to us? Why is humility better than pride? Why is my self-esteem less important than making somebody else feel better about their lives? They don’t get that anymore. And we as Christian parents aren’t giving it to them. And again, our pastors aren’t giving them. We don’t talk about … everything is the prosperity gospel. Sin is judgmental. Many of our pastors actually believe talking about sin is prejudicial. It’s one-sided. So without that kinds stuff, it’s a bleak landscape unless we as parents decide to give them those things.
Yvette: Yeah, well, it hurts people’s feelings when you tell them that they’re sinful and we don’t want to do that. And you’re exactly right. It’s all about apologetics. Teaching our kids to understand what they believe, ask the questions, and then understand why they believe what they believe. Because if they don’t understand why they believe what they believe, they’re never going to be able to defend it. We’ve watched this happen time and time again with kids and it happens to kids in public school, private school, homeschool where they think, well, we’re good. And the parents think they’re good because we’re Christians and they go to church, like you said, a couple times a week and they can play their cards right, and they can say all the right things. But if they don’t really own their relationship with the Lord, then they have no solid foundation to stand on. I’m curious to know because you’re a university professor, what is your viewpoint of Christian universities today? How are you seeing those kind of shake up culture?
Dr. Duke: The vast majority of them are worse than the public schools. You take schools, the obvious Catholic ones like Notre Dame or Georgetown, and these Christian schools, and the Protestant ones do it as well, in the name of plurality, in the name of open-mindedness, the Christian universities all hire non-Christian faculty. They don’t want to be seen as discriminating like the pastors. They want to invite secular teachers in because our Christian kids need to hear both sides and immediately when they get to campus, these non-Christian faculty members who are now 70% and 80% of the faculty now. That number of Christians keeps shrinking, and they’re demanding LGTBQ, and they’re demanding socialism, and they’re demanding an end to borders. They’re turning around and accusing the Christian theology that governs the school of being exclusionary and there’s nobody to stop it. But I’ve said this many times. I would much rather my kid lose his faith from a public school teacher or a public university professor because you expect it.
Dr. Duke: You expect them when they go into a non-Christian classroom to have their face challenged. It is really dangerous when our kids go to so-called Christian schools and they encounter in Christian environments really anti-Christian ideas. they begin to think that Christianity is either evil by definition if all these Christian professors don’t like it or their Christianity becomes really social justice pretending to be Christianity. And many of our kids are working again, many of our Christian kids think that Christianity now means radical left-wing politics. And so it’s undermining faith. I’d rather have my kids in a secular school than in a Christian school that’s lost its way. And there are very, very, very few Christian schools that are faithful to their heritage and their mission.
Yvette: Yeah, I agree with you completely. And it’s so deceptive because they think they’re getting a Christian education and these parents think that they’re sending their children to a good, solid Christian school. It’s got all of these awards, and accreditations, and blah blah blah. Okay. But are they really teaching the truth of God’s word? And I know that there are some out there that really are, but I appreciate you saying that because we’ve talked a whole lot about that and that’s a scary place to be as a parent.
Yvette: We’re looking at, our daughter is going into high school next year and starting to just think through, okay, what direction is she going to head? And we were talking to a pastor several months ago and he was saying the same thing. And I said, “Would you ever consider sending your kids to a public university?” He said, “Most of them are better than private universities today.” And he goes, “And at least they know that they’re getting a secular education.” And hopefully my children will have been trained and have a very solid foundation and be able, again, back to apologetics, they know what they believe and why they believe it. And so they know that going into it.
Dr. Duke: Well, one piece of advice I give your parents, I can give you, even. When you go to a Christian school, Christian college to find out what it’s really like, don’t ignore the administration. They’re going to give you some student is going to give you a tour of a Christian campus and talk about how faith-friendly it is. That’s all propaganda. Go to the cafeteria, sit down with a couple of strange kids and say, hey, my daughter is going to be coming here. Can we buy you lunch and talk to you? Sit down with the kids. The kids are much more honest. Ask them, is there regular church service? Are the faculty really open to Christian values? You’ll find out quick from the kids whether or not. They’re a much better gauge of what’s going on than the school’s trying to get, they want your money. They want you there.
Yvette: Yeah. That’s a fantastic idea. We have a few more minutes left. Let’s talk about FreedomProject Academy. Tell us what that is.
Dr. Duke: It’s one more way to try to help homeschool moms and dads. There a lot of homes. There are a lot of moms I’ve encountered across the country, oftentimes, secular moms or Christian moms who are overwhelmed by what’s happening in the public schools, but they got to work two jobs. The husband and wife have to work. Sometimes it’s single mothers. These are families that desperately want out of public school, but they can’t afford the costs of private Christian schools and they don’t have time or they feel like they’re not qualified to teach the kids the way they have to. So what we do at FreedomProject is we have real live teachers teaching over the computer just like you and I are watching each other right now. And they teach in real-time and they come right into your living room. We can do everything from kindergarten through high school. We can do one or two classes or an entire range of classes.
Dr. Duke: We are accredited. So kids who come with us can get a high school diploma. And our kids are getting into colleges all over the place. So we’re a Christian school, we teach Christian values, we teach biblical principles, we give a high-quality classical education. And so for moms and dads who use us, we’re not for everybody. I mean, it’s a lot of screen time but we do give a really good education in a Christian vein for families who want to homeschool but don’t think they can quite do it themselves. We can either help them or do it for them.
Yvette: And can they choose from specific classes or you just sign up and you get everything?
Dr. Duke: No. We have moms and dads who are great at homeschooling, the only thing they can’t teach their kid is chemistry at junior year of high school. So they’ll just take our chemistry class or we’ve got moms and dads and keep the kids in the public school, but they don’t like the fact that American history is so bad. So they’ll send their kids to public school all day and then in the evening, they’ll do one of our courses on American history so they get to see the other side of the story. We have other parents for whom we do five classes a semester from kindergarten through high school and we give them a diploma. So it depends on what you need, what you want. We’re very flexible that way.
Yvette: Okay. I know you started classes at the beginning of this semester. Will you start new classes mid-year? And can people sign up for it mid-year or do they have to wait until next school year?
Dr. Duke: Rolling admissions is too difficult because, especially because, and this is a fact across the board when kids come to us from the public schools, they are at a minimum two years behind where they should be. So it’s very hard in the middle of the semester to try to place that. So unfortunately, we need to wait until the following August, September. But we can do it then. And we’re very serious about that. The nice thing about this online course stuff is if your kid comes to us and she’s a fourth grader and she does fourth grade English, she’s doing good, but her math grade is second grade, we can keep her in all the other classes at her age and then put her back into math classes a little earlier and then catch her up. So this is something that public schools can’t do. It’s not something we do.
Yvette: Okay. And do you assess the children before you assign them to a class?
Dr. Duke: Anybody who applies to FreedomProject and you could do it for, even if you want to find out where your kids are, we’ll do placement exams in math and English for you. Even if you have no intention of coming to us, it won’t cost you anything. And then we’ll tell you where your kids are. Vis-a-vis where they should be. It’s not that complicated. If you want your kids to be able to read at a high level and you want them to be able to do at least precalculus by the time they graduate high school, then at every grade you have to get them a certain place. And so every parent that comes to us, we give the two exams, we let them know. And even moms and dads who don’t come with us, we tell them where their kids are so they know, they have a sense of where their kids should be and where they are.
Yvette: Okay. That’s fantastic. We’ll definitely link to that in the show notes. One last question. As a university professor, I don’t know how many homeschool kids you get in your classroom, but are you seeing that homeschooled students going into college and universities, are they well prepared? Are they better prepared? Are they less prepared? What are you seeing?
Dr. Duke: It’s undeniably true that the homeschool kids we get at college are better because … it takes us full circle back to the beginning of the interview. We’re not educating anymore kids to be good readers, to be good mathematicians and scientists, we’re educating them to be woke, socially aware, progressive. So when they get to college, most of the public school kids shouldn’t be there. I estimate about four out of 10 of my kids in every class, every one, shouldn’t even be in college. They don’t have enough knowledge or they’re unwilling to work at it. But when I get homeschool kids, they’re fine. I mean, they’re solid. They’re literate. They have a basic foundation that the public school kids don’t have. So then even if they’re not completely ready, you can catch them up quickly.
Dr. Duke: It’s the public school kids. And even many of the Christian educated kids who get a solid Christian education, they’re more or less ready. But certainly, the public school kids aren’t. And then the sad thing is, the tragic thing is that the universities too are catering to the progressive kid who doesn’t know anything rather than the Christian kid who could succeed. So we’re lowering our standards. We’re bringing kids to college, not on the basis of achievement, but on the basis of how woke they are and how malleable they are to progressive arguments. So universities, to the surprise of nobody, universities are worse even than the public schools in terms of turning kids into good little progressives.
Yvette: Yeah. Yeah. It’s encouraging to know that universities are seeking out homeschooled kids. We’ve talked to a few university professors and that’s one of the fears, of course, that parents often have of homeschooling is my kid’s not going to be able to get into college. And so we talk about that in the movie and say, yes, they will be able to getting to college. Not only that, but there are actual universities now, many of them and more and more each year who are seeking out homeschooled kids because they really are better prepared.
Dr. Duke: Absolutely. And I’ll tell you, at every university, I’ve taught at seven different universities now and I’ve always had one colleague in every English department who looks forward to teaching homeschool kids. One, because they were smart and two, because they saw it as their mission, as one put, to kick the Jesus out of them. So the universities recognize that these kids are smart and they want them because these are kids that don’t drop class, they don’t swear or cut classes. They turn their homework and they say, “yes ma’am,” “no sir.” They like that. But then they want to socially engineer these kids. And so they’ll take them. The universities want them, but a lot of the professors want them for very different reasons.
Yvette: Interesting. That’s really interesting. What is one last bit of encouragement that you can give to the moms and dads who are listening to this podcast? How would you encourage them in regards to either bringing their kids home from public school, why should they do that, or just homeschooling in general?
Dr. Duke: Well, I think rather than give them some platitude, I would simply cite your story. because I’ve heard your story tens of thousands of times. Concerned parents who are Christian, who watched their kids’ education, who see what’s happening around them, who hear the horror stories, who understand what’s happening, who never thought, and you and I’ve talked about this before, I mean, you never thought in a million years you would homeschool your kids. You’re a good Christian, but you thought that those homeschool kids were a little socially maladjusted. And now that you’ve taken the leap, I love the phrase you said, it’s St. Paul on the road to Damascus. The scales fell from your eyes and now you wouldn’t trade your homeschooling for anything.
Dr. Duke: I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, I’ve been to 48 States, I’ve given over a thousand talks on this stuff, I have never met a single homeschool mom and dad who regrets doing it. Not one. And that tells you something that if you take that commit, that you make that leap in God’s name to give your kids a godly education, God is going to allow you to do it. God will give you all the tools you need. Every financial, every sociological, every family obstacle that the devil has thrown in your way will fall away. You just got to take that leap of faith and as Christians, we all we do every day. Do it. You’ll be happy.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right. Well, you guys heard it from Dr. Duke Pesta and he knows his stuff. So where can people find out more about you and FreedomProject Academy?
Dr. Duke: Well, you can go to our freedom project website. It’s FreedomProject Education, fpeusa.org, and there’s all sorts of stuff there about the school. One thing I would urge you to do maybe is if you like podcasts like this one you’re watching now, ours too, the Dr. Duke Show. It’s four times a week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and it’s absolutely free. You can get it anywhere you get podcasts and you’re going to you, at the very least, you will be a very, very informed person as to what is actually happening in the schools.
Yvette: Yes. Well, I appreciate it so much. I listen to your podcast. I have been since I heard you on Heidi’s podcast, and you and Katie are a riot.
Dr. Duke: It’s such a sad, depressing story. We try to make it as fun as possible. And that’s the Dr. Duke show.
Yvette: Well, you do a good job of it. It’s hard to talk about the issues of today sometimes and it’s not entertaining where you sit and laugh all the time, but you have made me think about a lot of things and really opened my eyes up to a whole lot of things going on in our culture. And so I get a lot of my information from you, so thank you for what you’re doing. You are a blessing.
Find out more about Dr. Duke’s FreedomProject Academy, an online homeschool curriculum that offers a fully accredited, Classical education for Kindergarten through High School.
“Anxiety in teens is higher than it’s ever been. Because these kids are having to perform at a standard that is a generalized standard that they don’t necessarily fit into and it does make sense because when we remove God’s design and plan, we end up with these things like depression. Because the Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is my strength. And so when I’m sent into a place every day where, well, God is there but where I’m not allowed to be taught about God or speak of God or see God or do things God’s way, then it’s not going to be a joy-filled place. When you remove the Lord from the school, you’re also removing joy and strength.”
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone. In case you didn’t read the previous post, The Benefits of Homeschooling, Part 1, make sure you go back and read that one. Aby Rinella is back with me today and we are talking about the benefits of homeschooling. We talked before about “The Why of Homeschooling” and today we’re building on some of those ideas. We recorded that episode several months ago, but this is the second part of that conversation about the many, many benefits of being able to keep our kids at home and disciple them.
The Bible passage that we have parked on for this episode is Matthew 6:31-33, but really focusing on verse 33. But it starts out, “Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ for the Gentiles seek after these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“I think in the beginning, I would look at other kids who parents would talk about the struggles that they had with their children but also the blessings of it too. But I thought, well… Homeschooling’s going to be different in our house. It’s going to run smoothly. And as I had this fairytale in my mind of what it was going to look like, we were going to just have this perfectly scheduled-out day. My children were going to just sit so compliantly in their desks and they were going to just do the work that I asked them to do. And they were going to learn everything the first time and they were not going to argue with me. I mean, I had this idea of how it was going to unfold and then I started homeschooling!”
Aby Rinella: I love talking about what these things are that are going to be added when we’re obedient to God in raising our kids, and last week we talked about all the academic benefits, all the things that moms panic about. “Can we really do this academically?”, and how we’re seeing that academically, homeschooled kids are thriving. We talked about all the reasons why, so I’m excited to get into a lot of the other benefits and all the other things that are added on to us when we choose to obey God’s call to homeschool.
Yvette: Yes. We talked a whole lot about the principle, “obedience brings blessings.” God is a God of blessings. He loves to bless his children and he hears our prayers. And he loves to listen to us as we cry out to him on this journey of homeschooling and parenting and just trying to figure it out. I know for myself, it has been… You know, before you have kids, you think you know it all.
Aby: Everything, yes!
Yvette: You see other kids and you’re like, “My kid would never do that. My kid would never throw a tantrum in public. My kid would never say no to me.” And then you have kids and you’re like, “Oh, so, let me take back everything”-
Aby: It’s universal.
Yvette: Right. It’s universal. And the same goes with homeschooling. I think in the beginning, I would look at other kids who parents would talk about the struggles that they had with their children but also the blessings of it too. But I thought, well… Homeschooling’s going to be different in our house. It’s going to run smoothly. And as I had this fairytale in my mind of what it was going to look like, we were going to just have this perfectly scheduled-out day. My children were going to just sit so compliantly in their desks and they were going to just do the work that I asked them to do. And they were going to learn everything the first time and they were not going to argue with me. I mean, I had this idea of how it was going to unfold and then I started homeschooling!
Yvette: Reality hit. So there are things that are hard about it, but in looking back, I also didn’t get to see all of the blessings that would come from it. And so it’s been… We’re in our ninth year of homeschooling now. And it’s so amazing to just see how with Garritt and I having been obedient to the call that God has put upon us to homeschool our kids and to have them with us day in and day out and discipling their hearts and training them. He has just blessed that beyond belief and I love what it’s brought. You and I, in the last episode we talked, like you said, about many of those things. One of the greatest things we talked about was marriage and sibling relationships. And I’m so grateful for what the Lord has done in our family through those things. So, let’s keep on talking about this. What are some of the other benefits that you’ve seen through homeschooling?
Aby: Okay, we’ll keep going through the list. One that I have seen hugely and I never expected and now I’m so passionate about it is health. We are a family that’s really health-oriented and I never equated that homeschool would have anything to do with health and it’s kind of blown my mind. Which everybody knows and science has shown that too much sitting leads to all sorts of issues, increase of diabetes. It kind of slows your brain. They say it actually gives you lethargic thinking, increase of heart disease. Obesity has tripled since the ’70s as more people are going to computer-oriented jobs rather than more labor jobs. So, sitting causes a lot of health issues and so, when you have the kids in a classroom from the day that they’re four all the way forever and they’re sitting for endless hours, it is not good for their health. And I am seeing in classrooms now they’re trying to do all these creative things. Like, let’s say you want to bounce the ball or let’s say you want a swivel chair. But we’re still sitting and we’re just sitting on different things.
So, that’s a huge benefit with homeschool. We did an episode before on the benefits of getting outside. And we talked a lot about that, about how it’s important to get up and move our bodies and physically outside. So, that’s when everybody can go listen to hear the health effects of that. Aside from just kids being able to move more, which helps their brain, especially if you have a kinesthetic learner. But even non-kinesthetic learners, it helps our brains when we’re moving.
So, in addition to that, sleep. This is one that has hit me and I have seen that with health, like a lack of sleep brings on illness. They’ve said that, I mean, if you’re listening to this and you’re a homeschool mom, that means most likely you’ve had babies. And that means you know what it’s like to sleep, to not sleep for long periods of time.
Aby: And that does affect our health. It affects our attitudes. They say a lack of sleep can lead to depression, it leads to a lowered immune system. So with homeschool, we can let our kids sleep when they need to. And I’m not saying that if you want to get your kids up at 7:00 AM and start school, that’s fine but that’s your option. That’s your privilege, that’s your freedom to decide how much sleep your kids need. And so, we run by our own clock in our own home, not somebody else’s. So, just the beauty of not having to get my kids up, yelling and screaming at them to get dressed, hurry up, and shove food down them and get them out the door when they’re exhausted. That can take a toll on a child’s health.
The other thing that just is brand new to me and you’ll relate to this, is when kids hit that pre-puberty, their whole circadian rhythm changes, like all of the sudden, they’re staying up later and they’re sleeping in. And I didn’t see it coming. All of a sudden, I have a daughter that’s entering into that and she’s up later. And it’s not that she’s just trying to be up later like her body is, it’s just her whole rhythm is different. That’s a scientific thing that happens when you’re going through those pre-puberty. So, again, we can let our kids sleep when they need to sleep according to their body and their season and when they are. When kids aren’t tired, they learn better.
And that’s something I saw as a public school teacher. I would have kids that were so exhausted, little teeny tiny five-year-olds coming in so tired because they didn’t get a nap because now we’re doing full-day kindergarten in most states. These kids were so tired and then we expected them to learn. And that just doesn’t… That’s not healthy. So the beauty of homeschooling, one of the blessings is that physically, it’s so much healthier.
Yvette: Yeah. And not just kids but for mom too. You know, mom having to get up early to get her kids up and ready and out of the house and fulfill all those responsibilities. Then mom is tired, and we talked in the last episode about marriage when mom’s having to get up and she’s exhausted from the day. By the time her husband’s home and kids are in bed and now it’s finally time for you and your husband to spend time together.
Yvette: You’re exhausted and you want nothing to do but sleep. And that’s not healthy. That’s not healthy for your marriage. It’s not healthy for your kids. It’s not healthy for mom. And so, I mean, there are often days with us where Garritt or I or our girls will just say we just need a nap today. And it doesn’t happen often. But sometimes, I’ll just say, “I really need to sleep. I can’t even focus on what I need to do right now. I’m going to go just take a power nap.” I’m good at power-napping. I can take a 20-minute power nap and be refreshed for the rest of the day. Not all of my family members can do that but I love the benefit of being able to do that. And my girls, every once in a while they do that too. Lacey, my little one, we call her the Energizer bunny because she requires so little sleep. We don’t know how she does it but that girl, I feel like she could be one of those adults who can survive off of four hours of sleep at night. I don’t know.
Aby: She’ll handle newborns well.
Yvette: She will. I mean, from the time she was about, I think, a little older than two, she didn’t even nap anymore. Because if she did, she wouldn’t go to bed till 11 or 12 o’clock at night. She just does not require a lot of sleep but many do.
Aby: But many kids need a lot more than the average kid, too.
Yvette: They do, yep.
Aby: Again, when we try to fit all the kids in the same box, well, every kid has to be up at the same time to make the bus at the same time. And we’re doing this herd thing where I don’t care if you need more sleep or less sleep, you’re going to get the average amount of sleep that everybody gets because the bus hits it this time.
Also, when kids are sick, I saw so many times, moms bring kids to school sick because they couldn’t stay home from work. And then they would be sick week after week because they never got the rest they needed for their body to heal.
Yvette: Sure, they couldn’t fully recover.
Aby: They couldn’t. So again, when you can just rest, when you can just say, “You don’t have to do school today because you’re sick.” And our kids are healthier, they can heal faster. Their bodies can do what God designed their bodies to do.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s great.
Aby: And another physical health benefit is… Can you tell I’m passionate about when it comes to kids’ health?
Yvette: Yes, I love it.
Aby: Is food. I think, I look at an adult schedule, we all get hour lunch breaks. Well, those that work outside the home. I just can eat all day.
Aby: But most adults in settings an hour lunch break and we’re giving kids 20-minute lunches. The average lunch in an American school is a 20-minute lunch. And those kids are so amped to get up and out of there to the playground that most of them aren’t even eating their whole lunch because they want to get out the door. So they’re eating too fast. And again, when you look at the medical side of things, it is eating too fast, has been linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems. And actually, not getting enough food that you actually need nutrient-wise because you’re just shoving it in and your body isn’t being able to balance what you’re eating. This is what we’re setting. We’re setting these habits in our kids at such a young age that are going to stick to them through a lifetime. And food choices too. Even just what the kids are eating when they’re rushed out the door and hurry up and grab.
So, there’s just so many health, just physical health benefits that are secondary reasons, secondary benefits to homeschool when we… Not the reason to homeschool, the reason to homeschool because God has called us to, but these are benefits that come with it.
Yvette: That’s right.
Aby: So, also physically, ADHD symptoms drop and that’s an incredible one. ADHD is through the roof now and it’s growing every single year. But you’re finding that, this is really interesting. Early childhood school enrollment is a primary culprit with the ADHD diagnosis epidemic. The earlier kids are registered for school or in schools, the younger the age, the higher rates of ADHD. And that’s really interesting. So, we now have all-day public kindergarten. You’re in kindergarten all day and now we’re taking it down to preschool. So right now, putting kids in at four years old.
Yvette: Oh, they’re just babies.
Aby: They’re babies and the rates of ADHD, which really, just a kid, a four-year-old can’t sit still all day, anyway. Just, their bodies aren’t made to do that.
Aby: So, the ADHD symptoms drop when kids can get outside, and we talked about that before, when we play outside. And so that’s a benefit. This is interesting, I’m just going to read this. A Harvard study found that in states with a September 1st enrollment age cutoff, children who entered school after just turning five were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children born later about to turn six.
Aby: So, that’s a 30% increase.
Yvette: That’s huge.
“I can’t stand to sit all day. It drives me crazy. I mean, I have to get up every now and then. If I’m sitting and working and doing stuff at the table, I have to get up every probably 30 minutes at least and just move my body. I need to grab a snack, go outside, and get some fresh air or something. And no one is made to sit all day, every day at a desk and have to focus on what it is that you’re supposed to focus on.”
Aby: With putting these little tiny ones in school. So, obviously we see with a lot of this, and I’m not negating ADHD. I’m saying that there are ways to help that and some of these studies show that immaturity is really the real factor, not pathology. So, that’s a huge benefit that we have. If our kids aren’t ready to sit all day, that’s okay. We don’t have to make them sit all day. We have the freedom to change that up.
Yvette: Sure. And it’s not just the preschool kids who aren’t ready to sit all day.
Aby: If you had a teenage boy, just look at them.
Yvette: It’s all kids, even me. And I’m not a super… I’m an outgoing person but I’m not a super crazy high-energy person. But I can’t stand to sit all day. It drives me crazy. I mean, I have to get up every now and then. If I’m sitting and working and doing stuff at the table, I have to get up every probably 30 minutes at least and just move my body. I need to grab a snack, go outside, and get some fresh air or something. And no one is made to sit all day, every day at a desk and have to focus on what it is that you’re supposed to focus on.
Aby: No, it’s not healthy. It’s not healthy. So, those are some of the physical benefits. And then, the mental benefits are absolutely incredible. So, adolescent anxiety, depression, and suicide declines during summer when they look at the statistics. So all those things go down in the summer. It’s different for adults and I’m not sure why but when they study adolescents, then they find that those things spike right at back-to-school time. So that seems pretty obvious. Suicide has more than doubled since 2007. Then we’re just… The more the testing, the more the requirements. But I just find it very interesting that all those symptoms go away in the summer and then they spike back up when it’s time to go to school. And that’s pretty obvious. So, a Boston college psychology professor that writes frequently about the problems with this other kind of schooling looked at the statistics and stated that the available evidence suggests quite strongly that school is bad for children’s health. That kind of blew my mind but psychologists are saying this isn’t a place where kids are going to mentally thrive in, in that health department.
Yvette: And when he says school, he’s talking about sitting in a classroom all day. He’s not talking about academics, of course.
Aby: Not academics. No, no, no, no, no. Although sometimes trying to teach subtraction makes me lose my mental health but that’s not what he was talking about.
Also, fear is eliminated. Because when kids are home with mama that loves them and they’re safe and they don’t have to fear the bullying that goes on. There’s, again, an epidemic of bullying going on in our schools. The programs, when I was just stepping out of the school, a huge part of our days were spent with an anti-bullying program that was being put in because bullying is such a problem. Safety, drugs, the temptations that are out there that kids have to battle every day. I was a public school high-schooler, and the temptations that I faced every day just caused severe depression in me. I stood for my faith. I was able to stand for my faith but it just was a pressure that I wasn’t mature enough to handle. And so, kids are dealing with that every day. Constantly having to perform for someone else’s standards. That is a lot of pressure on kids and that leads to depression and anxiety.
Anxiety in teens is higher than it’s ever been. Because these kids are having to perform at a standard that is a generalized standard that they don’t necessarily fit into and it does make sense because when we remove God’s design and plan, we end up with these things like depression. Because the Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is my strength. And so when I’m sent into a place every day where, well, God is there but where I’m not allowed to be taught about God or speak of God or see God or do things God’s way, then it’s not going to be a joy-filled place. When you remove the Lord from the school, you’re also removing joy and strength.
Yvette: Sure. Sure, it’s a very dark place to be.
Aby: It’s a very dark, a very dark place. And I know because I was there. And the other thing that you just did an awesome podcast with Heidi St. John, which was amazing. You guys spoke about something that really hit me about how when we educate kids collectively as opposed to individually. And when we’re not able to educate the independent, individual child, which is the child that God created to be unique with a purpose and a plan, with unique interests, with unique strengths. When we have to educate kids as a collective, we’re kind of forcing them into this peer-pressure situation. And I got to thinking about that when I was listening to you and Heidi speak, where we’re kind of telling kids, “You have to be like everybody else. You need to have the same scores as everybody else. You need to learn the same thing as everybody else.”
And then, that carries over with kids too. “Okay, well then I need to dress like everybody else and act like everybody else and talk like everybody else and have the same gifts and talents as everybody else and the same hobbies.” We’re kind of shoving our kids into this state of peer pressure. And then, we’re acting confused as to why there’s all this peer pressure yet these kids that were trying to be a part of the collective that we’re forcing them into, they have a unique independence inside of them because God made them that way. Because whether they’re believers or not, they’re still created in God’s image.
So, then they have this battle of, “I want to be independent and I want to fight for my independence, but I need to be a part of this collective and fit in.” And you see these teens and it’s just like extreme mental anguish that they want to stand out and be unique. So they’re going to do these extreme things to be noticed. But then they want to be a part of the crowd and fit in. And it’s an unhealthy thing that you don’t really see elsewhere besides this setting. So they vacillate and that leads to depression and anxiety and bullying and a lot of these social issues that we see because we’re setting up this artificial setting for kids to try to be socialized in.
Yvette: Sure, sure. Which you can also see that sometimes in the church and in youth group and homeschool co-ops, things like that.
Aby: It’s part of our nature.
Yvette: It is part of our nature but at the same time, it’s different when they’re not faced with it all day, every day for 40 hours a week.
Aby: Yes. Yeah, that’s for sure. And the thing is, homeschool is not a savior and that’s not what we’re saying but God’s way is. Doing things God’s way will lead to a much better outcome. So, we want our kids to be able to embrace their uniqueness.
Yvette: Yep, that’s right.
Aby: The Bible, we’re told in Corinthians 12 that we’re a body created all different with different unique traits and different talents. Yet we are part of the body. So, we are created unique but we are all being part of this collective. But if you do that void of God, which is what’s happening, we end up with a terrible mess. Because anything we do, void of God, no matter how natural it is, it ends up being a mess because it’s void of the one that designed it.
Yvette: That’s right.
Aby: Anyway. And so I guess lastly, this is a big one. What’s the number one thing people ask you about homeschool? The big “S word”.
Yvette: Oh, socialization for sure.
Aby: Socialization. What about socialization?
Yvette: Awkward unsocialized homeschoolers.
Aby: Right? Totally. Which all you have to do is go hang out with them. So the definition of socialization, I love, it’s the process beginning during childhood by which individuals acquire the values, habits, and attitudes of those they’re being socialized by. So that’s the habit, the values, and the attitudes. You can be socialized anywhere by anyone. You’re just getting the attitudes, the habits, and the values from those people.
So, my husband was in law enforcement previously and he always said, “The closest thing that we have in our society that looks like the school system as far as socialization goes is the prison system, incarceration.” And he worked in the prison system. We segregate these people in the prison system based on… They have parameters. They can eat when they’re told to eat, they can socialize when they’re told to socialize. But they can only socialize with a certain set of people that are in the same pod they are, right? And they have to move as a group where they’re allowed. So it’s interesting that that social setting is very similar to what we see in the schools.
And so a blessing with homeschool, one of the secondary advantage when we seek first God’s way is that our kids can be socialized anywhere and with all ages and it’s a more natural way because they’re interacting with people of different socioeconomic status, people of different ages, people of different class. It’s a much more natural way, which leads to kids having, we’re talking about health, a healthier way of socializing.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right. One of my favorite answers when people ask about socialization and “Don’t they need to be in school so that they can socialize?” is, “Okay, well, tell me exactly which character trait you want my child to emulate of those kids who are in the public school system because pretty much none of them.” And I’m not saying there aren’t great kids in the public school system. There certainly are. And in private school as well, there are many, many great kids. But overall, I’ve seen those kids. You’ve seen those kids, you see them when you go in public anywhere. You go to the mall or Walmart or anywhere. Why would I want my child to emulate that? And you don’t see a lot of godliness going on, at least not a lot of godly examples happening in the public school system.
So, that is not where we want our children to be in order to be socialized. I will say on that point though, that even today, we have seen that there are homeschool parents who are so afraid of the world out there that they really still continue to keep their children isolated at home. And I don’t think that that’s healthy. Parents need to have their children out there. But one of the great benefits of homeschooling is, in a sense, we often get to choose our kids’ friends and at least we can better direct who they’re going to be spending their time with.
So if you’re part of a co-op or if you’re a part of your church youth group or their sports teams or whatever it is that they’re part of, you can really encourage them because you get to know their friends better and you’re around them more. And so you have a whole lot more control over it. Not full control, of course. And especially as they get older, they’re going to hang out with kids who maybe you don’t know as well. But I don’t think isolating our kids from other children is healthy for them.
Aby: No. And that’s not seeking. We’re going back to our whole point is seek first the kingdom of God. So, if you’re homeschooling because you’re afraid of what’s out there then you’re not seeking first the kingdom of God. And if you’re homeschooling because you don’t want your kids to be exposed to certain things, which granted we don’t. But if that’s your primary then that’s not seeking first the kingdom of God. So when we seek first the kingdom of God, we’re not afraid of those things. But just because I don’t fear it doesn’t mean I want that to be the primary influence in my child’s life.
So, we seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things. God will guide us and direct us. And, again, we’re not saying that kids in the public… I was a public school system child and I love God with all my heart and I had to overcome a lot of things. We’re not saying that homeschool is the save-all end-all. Because if we were saying that then we wouldn’t be seeking first the kingdom of God. We’d be seeking first homeschool. And that’s not the message that we or Schoolhouse Rocked or anyone that follows Jesus wants to send.
But we do know that when we seek first the kingdom of God that all these other things will be given to us and he gives us discernment and he gives us wisdom. He gives us clear instruction in his book as to how to do these things. So, it only makes sense that when we remove God from the way, from a huge chunk of our kids’ days that we are going to be seeing so many of these social issues, so many of these health issues, so many of these academic issues. Because we’re separating our children’s daily life and God. And that’s not how it’s supposed to be. Those two things are supposed to go together. So seek first the kingdom of God and then all these other things.
Yvette: And his righteousness.
Aby: And his righteousness and you can kind of chill out on the rest of the stuff. It’s just going to naturally happen.
Aby: That health will naturally come. You’re naturally going to let your kids sleep in if you’re a sane woman.
Yvette: Because you’re going to want to sleep in yourself.
Yvette: Yes. Oh, and there are so, so many other benefits to homeschooling and I would encourage those moms who are still… Maybe they need some encouragement. Maybe they haven’t started homeschooling yet and they’re thinking about it. Maybe there are those moms who are just exhausted. Find a seasoned homeschool mom and just ask her, “What are some of the benefits?” And ask, “What are some of the things that you would have done differently?” And that’s really one of the reasons why we have the podcast is because we want to bring on moms who will encourage the homeschool community and just say, “Just keep at it.” There’s so many benefits to having your kids at home and discipling their hearts and training them and working through the relationships, working through the academics, working through the character training, working through those life skills that we’re trying to instill into our children.
And find a mom who will walk alongside you. Don’t do it on Facebook. You and I talked about that. No, I should… There is some good encouragement on Facebook but I feel like the further we go with social media, the more detrimental it has become. And one of my favorite things is, well, I shouldn’t say my favorite things. One of the most annoying things to me is when you’ll pop onto one of the Facebook homeschool pages and it’ll say, oh, what did they say? Not homeschool related but, “Can you please tell about?” Well, shouldn’t there be another page for that? I feel like these homeschool pages should really be just that. They should be for encouraging homeschool families. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk about anything because, I guess, homeschool related is life. Homeschooling is life for those who do, are part of their life for those who do it. But anyway, it seems like everything, people talk about it.
Aby: Totally, and we can fall into that same trap even amongst homeschool moms of comparing our kids and forgetting that God made our kids individuals. So it’s going to look different in my home than it is in yours. And we need to guard ourselves because that’s our human nature. I mean, our human nature is our human nature, whether we’re in one setting versus another setting. So we just need to guard ourselves and keep going back to, “Am I seeking first what God wants from me as a wife, as a mom, as a woman, as a homeschool teacher?” And if I’m seeking first God then I don’t need to get hung up on, “Hey, all you other moms, how would you handle this?” I can seek God and then he will guide and direct me to women who are truly going to give me wisdom, not just opinions. Yes. That is good cautionary. Don’t just throw it all out there because it’s a little overwhelming when you get 50 responses and they’re all different. So, seek God first and then ask discernment and where to seek second.
Yvette: Sure. That’s right. That’s right. And there’s a lot of good encouragement on there, I should say. So, I’m not trying to devalue everything that’s said on social media. A lot of people have a good heart and they really want to help those. But I’m just saying, not everything that you see on there is worth taking to heart.
Aby: Yeah. Just be cautious and discerning.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right.
Aby: And remember that if God’s called you to do it, he’s going to equip you to do it. It doesn’t matter how anybody else is doing it. And it doesn’t matter how you feel on one day versus another. He will give you everything you need for what he’s called you to do. And you will see all the blessings flow from there.
Yvette: Yeah, that is right. Well, I feel like we could talk about this forever but we are out of time for the show. So, Aby, thank you again for coming on. You are such a huge blessing to me, to my family, and to our listeners. So thank you for your time and just for all the research that you put into this episode. I love listening to the things that the Lord has shown to you.
Aby: Well, thank you. Thank you. We’re in it together. We’re all in it together.
Yvette: That’s right. That’s right. The body of Christ working together.
Yvette Hampton: To some of you, she needs no introduction, but some of you, especially some of you younger mamas, may not have heard of Ginger Hubbard. Years ago, Ginger wrote a book that was a life-changer for me, called Don’t Make Me Count To Three! I started reading that book when my oldest daughter was a baby, and it was such a powerful book and had a huge impact in my life and in my parenting. So, ever since then, I’ve been kind of stalking Ginger. And God saw fit to introduce the two of us and we became fast friends. God has just been so faithful to develop this friendship. And I have loved getting to know Ginger and her family. Ginger, introduce yourself and your family to us.
Ginger Hubbard: Well, my claim to fame is, I’m married to Ronnie Hubbard, who is the absolute greatest guy in the world. We’ve been married for seven years, and got married on April 23rd, which was Easter weekend. And it was just such a sweet, sweet weekend. And Ronnie came as a package deal with two stepsons, Hudson and Jackson. And so, between the two of us, we have four kids.
Yvette: That’s awesome. And your kids are pretty amazing. And they’re now all adults, right?
Ginger: They are. They are. Wesley is 25, Alex is 22 and then my stepsons, Hudson is 21, and Jackson, our youngest, is 18. He just graduated high school.
Yvette: So, you’ve been around, you’ve done the parenting thing, you’re one who can actually speak from experience. It’s not just, “I’m testing this out and let’s see how it works.”
Ginger: Yeah, but I still would say I didn’t always get it right. And looking back, I can certainly share some of the mistakes I made to help those moms out there not make some of the same ones that I did.
Yvette: Sure. I love that. And one of the things I love about you is that you’re so transparent and so honest just about where you’ve been and about what God has done in your life through your desire to follow him through parenting and through marriage and through family. Like I said, you wrote Don’t Make Me Count to Three. You have Wise Words for Moms, that’s a pamphlet that I had up in my kitchen for many, many years. And we’ll link back to those things in the podcast notes. But we also are so excited about your new book that you have, it just came out in April, correct?
Yvette: And this book is calledI Can’t Believe You Just Said That, Biblical Wisdom for Taming Your Child’s Tongue. And I love this book so, so much. God has given you a gift. He has given you the gift of wisdom and the gift of being able to just be that Titus 2 woman. And this is why I stalked you so many years, is, without you even knowing me, you were one of those Titus 2 women to me, where I just felt like God had just blessed you with the wisdom of training the heart of your child, because it’s not, and we’ll talk about this, but it’s not just about obedience. It’s not just about teaching your kids to do or say the right thing. It’s really about getting to the heart of your child.
So, tell me a little bit about your new book, I Can’t Believe You Just Said That, what led you to write that book? And give me kind of the premise of it.
Ginger: Well, as a national speaker, Yvette, I have listened to parents all over the country express their heartache over their inability to tame the tongues of their children. And they’ve read the books, they’ve tried the advice, but they just still remained frustrated because nothing seemed to work. And so what I wanted to do with this new book, I Can’t Believe You Just Said That, is I wanted to just expose some of those faulty child training methods which fail to reach the heart and equip parents with biblical principles, and then provide them with a toolbox full of illustrations and examples for implementing those principles in a very practical way.
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And, don’t get me wrong, you and I, before we started recording, we were talking about Shepherding A Child’s Heart, and there’s some really, really great parenting books out there. That was actually my personal favorite as well out of all the ones that I read, just so thankful for Tedd Tripp and the wisdom that he shares.
I’ve read lots of parenting books and plenty of books are out there that focus on what the Bible says about parenting. And that’s great, but … And they’re just full of scripture that are helpful for parenting. But what I found is that few offer the information that parents need most, which is how to actually practically apply those Scriptures to those tongue-related struggles that their children are facing in everyday life.
Yvette: I love that. And yes, you give such practical things for parents to do. One of the things that you talk about in Don’t Make Me Count To Three, and we have used this with our kids for their whole lives basically, is do-overs where maybe my daughter speaks to me disrespectfully, and instead of just saying, “Don’t talk to me like that,” I will say, “Honey, that is not the correct way to speak to me. How should you have spoken to me?” But before, I would even say, “How should you have spoken to me,” for the past 12 years, I’ve taught her, “When you respond to me, you need to respond this way.” And I teach her, “This is how you’re to respond.” And it’s with … I mean, it can be with anything. If your two-year-old is throwing a tantrum because their toy isn’t being put together the right way, you can take the time to say, “Okay, honey, let’s do this the right way. Let mommy show you how to put the toy together so that you don’t throw a tantrum.” And then the next time they throw a tantrum, you can say, “Okay, how did mommy teach you to do this last time? What is the correct response?”.
And teaching kids and training them to do things over the right way. Because I think, as parents, we assume that kids are going to just know the right way to do things. And I love that I learned that from you early on of don’t just assume that they know how to do it the right way, or that they know how to respond the right way the first time. You have to teach them first, and then train them by teaching them to do it over, and over, and over again until, hopefully, at some point they actually get it.
Ginger: Right. And that’s what I refer to as the practice principle. And imagine, Yvette, trying to teach your child how to tie his shoes without the practice principle. Just verbally walking him through that process, that’s not going to be enough. At some point, you would have to physically demonstrate how to do it, and then not only that, then require him to practice it on his own. And so, the way that I look at it is if the practice principal is vital for teaching such a morally neutral task as tying shoes, how much more important is it for training children in Christ-like character? Right?
Ginger: That’s what we want to do. We always want to require them to practice that biblical alternative to the wrong behavior, because it is never enough to just verbally instruct our children in what not to do. We have to instruct them in what to do. We have to teach them how to replace wrong behavior with right behavior. And then, most important, we want to require them to actually go back and do it.
So, you brought up the thing about children speaking disrespectfully. That’s pretty much across the board with younger kids, and certainly as they grow a little older. And so many parents, when their children speak disrespectfully, they’ll say something like, “That was disrespectful. You shouldn’t speak to me like that. Now go to your room.” But you and I know that is ineffective child training, because that most important part is left out. We shouldn’t just rebuke and discipline the child who was speaking disrespectfully. We need to have him come back and practice the biblical alternative by communicating the right way, using the appropriate words, and the appropriate tone of voice, and for many kids, particularly mine as the grew into their teen years, the appropriate facial expressions.
Yvette: Oh, yes. Oh, the faces.
Ginger: The face, yes.
Yvette: The rolling of the eyes.
Ginger: Right. But when we train our children in what’s right and require them to practice what is right, we’re teaching them how to grow in wisdom. And we’re preparing them to govern their own actions in the future.
Yvette: Yeah, I love that. And as you think through Scripture, all throughout Scripture, God does that with us. He doesn’t just say to us, “Obey me,” he doesn’t just say, “Don’t sin,” he gives us very specific instructions on, “This is what I expect of you. This is how you will be wise. This is how you will have blessings in your life. And when you choose to obey me, you will have blessings.” And he doesn’t just expect us to know exactly. I mean, of course we have a God consciousness and we get that, but God is not void in his word of teaching us what he expects of us. It’s very clear in Scripture. And so I love, love that we get to do that, in turn, to our kids and show them, “This is what God expects of you.”
Ginger: Right. He has provided us with everything that we need for life and godliness. We just need to go to his word, and there it is. And that’s one thing that I would tell my kids is … You just said that it goes well with us when we obey God. Now, that doesn’t mean that there’s not going to be trials and tribulations. But certainly, when our children choose to obey us, ultimately, they are obeying God, because God has called children to obey their parents. And he says that when they do, that it will go well with them. It doesn’t mean that they’re not going to have trials, but it means that they are under that protective covering of being in the will of God when they obey their parents. And so it’s important that we help them understand that.
Yvette: Absolutely. Ephesians 6, it talks about that. And God is a faithful God. We tell our girls all the time, “Sin causes pain, but obedience brings blessings. Sin causes pain, but obedience brings blessings.”.
Ginger: That’s right.
Yvette: We desperately want our girls to grow up and having a life of blessings. But like you said, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to not have pain in their life, but it is a different kind of pain. If you have pain in your life because you’ve made poor choices and you have not sought God’s wisdom, that’s a different kind of pain than the pain that just comes because we live in a sinful fallen world.
Ginger: Right. So, those are the things that we want to show them, that no matter … And even when we do blow it and there are consequences for our sin, there’s blessing in being able to go to God and ask for forgiveness, and repent, and turn away from that. And God can even use those times to show us new things that he’s doing in our life, and equip us to share those things with other people.
Yvette: In the book, in I Can’t Believe You Just Said That, your new book, each chapter talks about a different verbal offense. Walk me through a few of those. And you also, in there you offer a simple three-step plan for dealing with each one. Tell me a little bit about those verbal offenses, and then your plan to help parents learn how to deal with that.
Ginger: What I did in the book is I have broken just common tongue-related struggles down into chapters that all kids are going to struggle with at some time or another. And just some of those different chapters and topics are, like whining, and lying, and tattling, defying, manipulating, interrupting, complaining, blame shifting, teasing, aggravating, bragging, arguing, yelling, gossiping, bickering. It’s everything that I could think of as far as those tongue-related offenses. And certainly, you know, kids are not going to struggle with every one of those. But at some time or another, they may struggle with several. And so, what I wanted to do is to take each one of those tongue-related offenses and then break down each chapter into a three-step plan that would help parents deal with those issues from a heart-oriented biblical standpoint. Rather than just that outward behavior, really learning how to get to the heart of the matter. And then when we do that, we’re able to address it in biblical ways.
And so, each chapter opens with a very common relatable scenario in accordance with that particular struggle. I’ve had so many parents at my conferences and through emails come up and say, “Oh, that chapter that you did on wining, that opening scenario, you were totally in my house last week.” And so it’s just very relatable scenarios.
And then the three-step plan, step one is heart-probing questions. If you think about it, in all the stories in Scripture, when someone did something wrong, Jesus, what he did not do is wave his finger in their face and say, “This is what you did wrong. And this is what you should’ve done instead.” In all those stories, Jesus often used heart-probing questions. And in order for the people to answer those questions, they had to evaluate themselves, because Jesus knew how to ask those questions in such a way that the people would have to take their focus off of the circumstances and the situations around them, and onto that sin in their own heart.
So, for each verbal offense, I offer two or three very simple questions just to help parents get going in the right direction and help them to reach past that outward behavior and really pull out what is going on in the heart. Because we know if we can get to the heart, well, then the behavior is going to take care of itself.
So, that step-one is the heart-probing questions. And then step two and step three are based on the Ephesians verse that says that we are to put off our old self and put on our new self. And so, step two is what to put off, what God’s word says about that particular behavior, and what it can lead to if it is continued. And then step three is what to put on, how to replace what is wrong with what is right.
Yvette: Okay. So let’s take it one step further. Could I give you one of these situations, and can you walk me through what it would look like for a child who is struggling with this specific thing? As I’m looking through the chapters, interrupting keeps coming up, because, though my girls deal with some of these other things, I have a seven-year-old who loves to talk. God has given her the gift of gab, and she loves to be the center of attention. And she is super cute, and so people always think she’s cute and funny. But she is an interrupter. And we’ve really been trying to work on this with her.
So, you and I are having a conversation and she walks up, and she says to me, “Mommy, did you see blah, blah, blah?” Tell me then, what do I do?
Ginger: Well, first, we ourselves want to understand what is at the heart of that. Before we get into how to instruct them, we need to understand what is at the heart of it and help them understand too what’s at the heart. So we know that that children … first, let me just say, Yvette, that that was my pet peeve. You just really grabbed something with me, because that was my … we all have our things that get under our skin, and that with me was really the one that got under my skin is that when I would be talking to another adult and one of my kids would interrupt our conversation.
But if you think about it, children have a natural bent towards selfishness and pride because, like us, they are born sinners. And so, children automatically place a higher priority on themselves than on others. And so they look at what they have to say as being more important than respecting that conversation of others. And so, what happens is they all of a sudden have this thought, and then they have this sense of urgency that they want to express it immediately, which is the most important thing to them. And that leads to impatience, which leads to interrupting.
So, from the heart, it all boils down to really selfishly placing their wants and needs above the wants and needs of others. And so, say that they come up and … you and I are talking, and your daughter comes up and she interrupts. We want to ask some heart-probing questions. It could just be like, “Sweetheart, do you think it is kind or rude for you to interrupt while I’m talking to someone else?” And, “Are you thinking about others or yourself when you interrupt?”.
And then, as far as the biblical teaching there, we might say something from First Corinthians 13:4 or Philippians 2:3. And instead of just directly quoting Scripture, we can do that, but we could also talk about it just in a comfortable and conversational manner, and say something like, “Sweetheart, the Bible explains that love is patient, love is kind, love is not rude. And God instructs us to do things, not that are selfish, but instead, that we’re supposed to consider other people and their feelings as being more important than our own.” And so that’s the direction that we want to get them going.
And then, you and I talked about that we always need to provide our children with a means of escape. And we want our children to know that we value their thoughts and their feelings, and we want to hear what they have to say. So it’s going to exasperate a child just to tell them to never interrupt, because especially when two mommies are talking, it can seem like an eternity before there’s a pause in that conversation. We want to always provide them with a means of escape. And I think about First Corinthians 10:13 that says that when we, as God’s children, that when we are tempted, God always provides us a way out. He always gives us a means of escape. And that goes back also to not just teaching our children what is wrong, but also training them in what is right. So we want to provide that means of escape.
So what I did with my children when they would interrupt is I taught them to, when they wanted to say something to me and I’m engaged in a conversation with someone else, I taught them just to place their hand on my arm, and to wait silently for me to give them permission to speak. And as soon as there was a pause in that conversation, I would give them permission to speak. That way, usually when they would put their hand on me, they knew that what that communicates is, “Mom, I need to say something, but I don’t want to be rude.” And while I would be talking, I would put my hand on top of theirs to let them know that I’m acknowledging that they have something they want to say, and that I want to hear what they have to say, but we all want to do that in a way that shows respect for everyone.
So, as soon as there would be a pause in that conversation, then I would give them permission to speak. And so that’s not, it’s not a biblical mandate- that we have our children place their hand on our arm. It’s just a tool, it’s a way to prevent exasperation. It’s a way to show respect for them the same way that we’re wanting them to show respect for us.
Yvette: That’s so powerful, because I know you encourage that the Bible is the best instruction manual for parenting, but it doesn’t specifically address interrupting. The Bible doesn’t say anywhere, “Thou shalt not interrupt. These are the rules for children. Thou shalt not whine.” But, like you said, I mean, there’s always a root cause for those things. Whether it’s lack of self-control, or selfishness, or pride, or greed, whatever it is, there’s always something that’s causing them to react that way.
Ginger: Right. And that’s our job as parents. We need to understand that all behavior is linked to a particular attitude of the heart. So, as parents that want to train our children in what is right and use biblical wisdom from God’s word, we have to learn how to reach past that outward behavior and pull out what is going on in the heart. And then, you better believe God’s word addresses it, because God is concerned with the issues of the heart.
Yvette: Absolutely, he is. One of the things that you write in the book that I love is, you write about, why do they act like that? Our kids do something, and oftentimes parents will say, “Why? Why do they act like that? Why did they give me that look? Why did they just roll their eyes at me?” And you say, “That’s the wrong question to ask when our children misbehave.” What do you mean by that? Why is that the wrong question to ask?
Ginger: Well, I first, I can relate to that question, because when my kids were little, I used to be constantly shocked by some of the things that would come out of their mouths, whether it was whining, or lying, or talking back, or whatever. I would typically, like most parents, I would look at them and ask that question, “Why do you act like that?” But after a closer look at the word of God, I realized that I was asking the wrong question. In Matthew 12:34 Jesus explained, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” In other words, yeah, in other words, there’s merit to that old saying we’ve heard a million times, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.”
And so, our sin does not begin with our mouth. It begins with our hearts. The sin that shows up in our words comes from inside us. And it starts sooner than we might think. King David proclaimed, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” So when parents really grasp the origin of sin and just the overall total depravity of the human race, we no longer question why our children sin.
I slowly began to learn that I was asking the wrong question. I slowly began to learn to stop asking, “Why does my child sin?” And instead, I began to ask myself, “When my child sins, how might I point him to the fact that he is a sinner, just like me, in need of a savior? How might I help him understand and live in the transformational power of Christ?”
Yvette: Yeah. I have a really good friend, she’s probably my longest childhood friend. We’ve been friends since kindergarten I think, or first grade, and have remained friends all our lives. And she has two daughters who are now, the grown one’s already in college, and then two little ones. But I remember when Brooklyn was probably around three years old maybe, we had gone to her house, and she was kind of in the tantrum phase, and I was trying to work through that and trying to just rein her in and trying to train her heart.
And my friend Robin said to me, she goes, “When you are talking with her and correcting her,” she said, “You need to pray with her.” And she said, “Say this,” tell her, “Dear God, please help me to obey, because I cannot obey without you.” And we still do that with both of our girls. Oftentimes when we pray with them, we just lead them in that prayer of, “God, I can’t do this without you. I am sinful, and I am incapable of making the right choice without your power and without you.” And so-
Ginger: That’s great. That is such a powerful, powerful prayer. And they need to see us praying the same thing.
Yvette: Oh, absolutely.
Ginger: That God would help us, you know? That we would obey him in training them in what is right. I can’t tell you how many times that I would go through ruts where I would just not be consistent in training my children the way that I should. I would find myself just ignoring things, letting things slide, or even just administering consequences instead of really taking the time to train them up.
And in some of those times, God would even use … when I would blow it in those times. So I would go weeks without being consistent, and then God would convict me, and I would sit down with my kids, and say, “You know what? I need to ask your forgiveness, because I have not been consistent in training you to obey and training you to do what’s right. And you know, honey, I just love you too much to allow you to disobey and to live foolishly. And so will you forgive me?”
And then we would go back over the standard, go back over what’s expected. And then we would just start following through, and I would step back up. But my kids … Instead of just doing that without helping them understand that I failed too, and that I have to go and I have to confess, and I have to ask God to help me and empower me to live in a way that is pleasing to him. Even in the times that we fail, Yvette, those could be powerful teaching opportunities for us to demonstrate our personal relationship with Christ. And what repentance, and turning from sin, and starting fresh looks like in our relationships with God.
Yvette: Yeah, I love it. So you homeschooled your kids, right? Did you homeschool all the way, kindergarten through 12th grade?
Ginger: I did.
Yvette: One of the things that I love about your books and about just your wisdom and parenting is that, through homeschooling, we have the opportunity to practice these things and to speak truth into the hearts of our children all day long. We don’t have to undo the damage that may have been done to them in school. If they’re in school and maybe being taught things that are contrary to God’s word, instead of spending time undoing those, we get to spend our time speaking into their hearts.
What did that look like for you in your homeschool environment with your kids? And how has that turned out? I often wonder, parents write books on parenting, or marriage, or something like that, especially parenting books when their kids are young. And then their kids grow up, and oftentimes I’m like, “Okay, did it work out for you? How are things going?”
Ginger: Right. Well, that is the great thing about homeschooling is that we really do get to grab all of those opportunities. Because we are with them all day long, and so, as sin creeps up, we are able to address it and to deal with it in that moment instead of having to wait until they get home from school or finding out what happened at school. That’s one of the most powerful things, that we have the opportunity to train our children in the context of the moment.
And that is when they really learn how to apply God’s word to daily life, because teaching them in the context of the moment, that’s when they’re really going to learn how to apply God’s word to daily life. And so, as we can grab those opportunities, it’s kind of like on-the-job-training, you know?
You learn better. You could learn from textbooks, but you really don’t learn something well until you’re actually doing it and putting it into practice. And so it’s sort of like on-the-job training all day long. And when they put that knowledge gained into practice at that very moment, it’s really going to stick better because they’re learning how it applies in that moment to their life in that particular situation.
So that is one of the great things about homeschooling is that we’re provided with those opportunities. But at the same time, we don’t really get a break. And so, we could become weary in having to train them all day, every day. And we can quickly view it as a burden or a trial. But we’re told to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds because we know that the testing of our faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so that we may be but sure and complete, not lacking anything.
Yvette: Yes. I have often thought about how many opportunities I would miss out on with training my kids and just being able to spend time with them, if they were in a traditional school all day long. And like you said, it can get tiresome sometimes. And there are days when I’m like, “I need to go for a drive. I need to get out. I need to breathe. I need to just have some mommy time,” if that means just going for a walk around the park, or whatever that looks like. But, gosh, I’m so thankful for the time that I get.
And when they’re away from you, and this could be at church, or sporting events. Or whatever, when they’re away from us, we usually don’t know what’s going on. It’s not like they’re going to come home and say, “Hey mom, this is the sin I dealt with today. Can you please train my heart?” You know?
Yvette: We’re going to miss so many opportunities. And with being able to homeschool, I love that most of those opportunities are not missed. And we get to help them, first hand, experience truth and the love of God through our parenting.
Thank you so much, Ginger. I love you. I am so grateful for our friendship, and just for what God continues to do through you. We are excited we actually got to interview you for Schoolhouse Rocked. And so we’re super excited to have you as part of that. And I appreciate your support and encouragement with the movie and all that God is doing through the ministry of Schoolhouse Rocked, because you have been such a blessing to me. And you have very much helped shape me into the parent that I am. And I shouldn’t say just me, I do co-parent. I do have a husband, and he parents with me. But he’s always very good about, when I say, “You know, well, what about this? I read this in Ginger’s book. I read this in Scripture. And what do you think about this parenting method?”
And, like you said, ultimately, the Bible is the instruction manual for parenting. There is not a book on the planet that is more important than God’s word. But it certainly is helpful to have excellent books that God has provided us with that can help shape us and encourage us as parents. So thank you for your ministry and for all that you do.
Ginger: Oh, thank you Yvette. And I’ll tell you, I have such a tremendous respect for the ministry that you guys have and what you’re doing with Schoolhouse Rocked. And it’s just such a blessing and a huge privilege to get to be even just a tiny, small part of that. And I, too, am just so thankful for the friendship that God has given us. You were just one of those people that, I meet so many people, but you were just one of those people that I just immediately clicked with, and we were kindred spirits and just knew that we were destined to be friends. You’ve been such a blessing and encouragement in my life too. And I’m very thankful for that.
Yvette: Aw, thank you so much. So, all right, well, love you, friend. Thanks for talking with me today.
The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast brings you the homeschooling conversations to encourage and equip you to start strong and finish well. On this weekly show, Yvette Hampton speaks with today’s homeschooling leaders – speakers, authors, activists, curriculum publishers – and homeschooling families just like yours. These conversations will build you up and give you important resources to help you homeschool your children with success – from pre-school to graduation!
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You may not know his name, but you’re probably familiar with his work. Aaron Burns is a movie producer who has worked on some movies that I’m sure many of you have seen before. He is the producer of Beyond the Mask and Pendragon: Sword of His Father. He was also the associate producer on the Kendrick Brothers film, War Room, and he recently finished work on their next release, Overcomer, which was released on August 22nd.
Yvette Hampton: I am excited to be talking to you today Aaron, welcome!
Aaron Burns: Thank you. It’s a real pleasure to be here today.
Aaron: Yes. We have a lot of fun at that event. For people who are interested in filmmaking and storytelling, we encourage any families or kids who want to get involved in that come down every March to the Nashville area, to the Christian Worldview Film Festival.
Yvette: Yes, it is one of our favorite events. We have been the last two years to that event. We are always so incredibly blown away by just the speakers, the encouragement, the training, everything that comes with that. Then at the end of the week, you guys a big award ceremony and it’s fun and flashy, and it makes everyone feel a bit like a Hollywood star. So you got to emcee that, that was a lot of fun. By the way, Schoolhouse Rocked won “Best Film Trailer” this year. So that was really exciting.
Yvette: Yeah. Thank you. It was very exciting. We were surprised to win that, and very honored to get that award. So anyway, tell us about you. Because you were Homeschooled growing up. You now have three little ones yourself. Tell us about you and your family.
Aaron: Yeah, well that’s always, an interesting question where to begin. But I was Homeschooled, and really enjoyed that journey. So my parents were both first-generation believers who wanted to just raise us in a way that would be honoring to the Lord. So back then Homeschooling was kind of a newer thing and now it’s very much more established. Because you say well, George Washington was Homeschooled. So it’s been around for a while. But it was more cutting edge, we didn’t have all the resources that we had today.
But had a lot of fun with it. My mom loved history and loved teaching us, and in literature and reading. So that’s something that we spend a lot of time reading great books and studying characters in the past and my dad is a storyteller. So he’d constantly be telling us every night, come on Dad, could you tell us more stories?
So that influence on me growing up with history and literature, and reading and storytelling, is a huge part of what shaped my passion to tell stories to reach a generation today with the medium of film. Honestly we didn’t watch that many movies or really hardly any TV shows as kids. But it was a curiosity around those things and awareness of the power of storytelling that led us to want to get involved.
When we were in high school, junior high, that age, started playing around the backyard. We started off with the giant VHS camcorder and you’d have a little mini DVD camera that our mom used to film our birthday party. We’re off in the backyard shooting superhero movies, and cowboy and Indian stories and all kinds of adventures like that. So I just had a great time with my cousins and siblings. I think that the nature of us being Homeschooled, and being thrown together all these times encouraged us to be creative and do things like that.
Yvette: That’s so cool. So your cousin, Chad and you, you have your own production company, correct? Okay, and you and what have you done with your company? I know you did Beyond the Mask.
Aaron: Yeah, so our family made our first feature film, Pendragon, and we released that back in 2009, I think. So it’s crazy, that’s 10 years ago. But that was what was our first feature, and it was literally a probably 10, 12, 15 of us Burns working in that movie. I played the lead actor in it. It was an adventure for sure. We were making our own costumes, and we built a giant Roman hill fort in the woods behind my dad’s house. We built a real 20 foot trebuchet launching fire bombs and all of these things. Wanting to tell a story about inspiring a generation to follow God’s call on your life. What God calls you to do He gives you the grace to accomplish.
It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of challenge and a lot of learning. It was our version of film school where we had literally no idea what we were doing when we got started, and it’s trial and error. You’d shoot a scene, you’d be like, huh, that does not look good.
Yvette: Doesn’t look like it looked in your head, huh?
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Aaron: Yes, and so you try again and trial and error. We wound up shooting our movie like one and a half times over the course of three years. Then we finished that and said, okay, well let’s move on with life. I went off to college to, was working on my Masters of business. When we started distributing it, my cousin Chad was working on his PhD in engineering. All of our other cousins and siblings were heading their different directions.
A couple of things happened. One, this little movie we made, Pendragon, started to pick up some steam in distribution and Christian bookstores and TV here in the states and overseas. It’s also in 12 countries, in four or five languages. We’re getting letters back from kids all over the world said, “hey, your movie’s different.”
It’s a faith-based adventure story that exalts Christ, and we loved it. When are you going to your next movie? We’re like, kind of hit us by surprise in a way. At the same time, God had put a mentor in my life who’s discipling me and encouraging me and pushing me to really flesh out this faith, this religion, this God that you’ve grown up with. What does that really mean for you? What does it really look like?
So, I started to really grow in my personal relationship with the Lord, and then want to start sharing that with others. So all these things were happening at the same time that God just really put a burden on our hearts. I was in an entrepreneurial marketing class, and the professor put up what he called a unique space map. It would have these different quadrants and different projects and ideas. He said, “hey, if you’re going to start a business, you have to find a way to compete differently.”
I was thinking of what business I’d want to start, and then just realized we were already doing this. These Christ-centered adventure stories that wouldn’t just reach Christian women. Or wouldn’t reach just a secular audience that would be gospel centered, Christian worldview adventure stories that the whole family and particularly young people would enjoy.
So, all these things were swirling, and we felt a clear call from the Lord back into pursuing filmmaking. Beyond the Mask was birthed out of that adventure. Then from there we went on to help the Kendricks with a couple of their projects, War Room and, Overcomer. I’m shooting a project right now with some friends from Texas, you guys should check out called Washington’s Armor. It’s a new series about the life of young George Washington. Then we have our couple of other big projects that we’re developing and would love your guys’ prayers for.
Yvette: Yes, so where are you in production on those?
Aaron: We have two feature films that are in development. One we’ve been developing for a couple of years and we’re almost done. We’re kind of in the pitching to studios and potential investors, see who wants to get involved with it, frankly, those decisions. But it’s ready to shoot, we finished our location scouting and hundreds of pages of set designs and the script and all of these creative elements are all done.
So, we’re in the pitching phase for that project. Then the other one is a little bit earlier in development. So those are both feature films. Then we have, like I said helping a friend shoot Washington’s Armor. We’re In production right now, which is a tv show about George Washington.
Yvette: Okay. So cool. So this is what you do for a living. You’ve got your Master’s in business administration and I know, being a producer, really is that. You administer all the business of the filmmaking.
Aaron: In many ways, yes.
Yvette: So how has that coupled together with your education, with Homeschooling and now with filmmaking, how have you worked all of that together?
Aaron: Yeah, it’s really a fun question. Because the role that I have as a producer, you’re really very split between creative and business and logistics. So an executive producer is specifically focused on the money side and the distribution side. But with my role as producer, I get to look very much on both sides. So you kind of take an idea, this is the story we want to tell.
It’s my privilege to shepherd that story all the way through concept, and all the way through distribution to getting in front of an audience. So we have about five phases of filmmaking. So the first one is development. It’s, hey, I’ve got this idea. I want to make a movie about this theme. Okay, well who are the characters going to be? Let’s get together an outline. Let’s get together the script. Then you sit there and you go, well where in the world are you going to shoot it?
What is the budget you’re going to shoot it for? Is this going to be animated or live action? Are you going to build all the sets? Is going to be CG heavy. What kind of actors, and who’s the target audience. All those questions, creative fun questions happen in development. It’s one of my favorite phases because that’s where the most creativity occurs. You’re just throwing mud at the wall and dreaming and framing plans.
Aaron: So, once you finished development, you say this is exactly what the goal is. You have your financing and hopefully your distribution lined up. You move into the second phase, which is pre-production. That’s relatively short, just a couple of months that you’re getting the project rolling. You’re hiring the actors, you’re building the sets, you’re making the costumes. You’re getting all the gear and gathering your crew.
In the shortest phase of the project is actual production itself. Where you’re all on cameras. That might be just 30 to 60 shooting days, depending on the scale of press. A lot of projects, for instance, War Room, we shot in 30 days. Over time, it was like 32 shooting days. So you’re only on set for six weeks and then you jump. There’s a massive team, 120 depending if you pay extras. So you might have 300 people, 400 people working for you for a day of shooting. Then they all go home and you’re left with a pile of hard drives.
Aaron: Then that starts post-production, which is the editing. You spend several months editing and then you get to fix you get to picture lock and you start doing the score and the visual effects and the music. All those elements, your team kind of grows again. Then you get to distribution and that’s taking the audience or taking the movie and getting it out to your audience.
So those are kinds of phases, and it’s been neat from, definitely my Homeschool background. Being forced to collaborate with all of your different siblings in all different situations I think naturally set me up to be comfortable with all the variety of different situations that we encountered when we first started doing movies. So it never was something that was really stressful or freaked us out.
Yvette: At the beginning, we just did this, and we just started running these teams. Which were basically, or getting our siblings, our cousins and our friends to work for us, before it just transitioned back. I think also one of the values of Homeschooling for us is translated into filmmaking. Particularly with the way our parents raised us, with that critical thinking along moral and spiritual issues.
Just spent a lot of time about and exploring. Also for us, it was a passion for history and literature and those things, and then storytelling. Valuing all of those out. So there’s the practical side of interacting with teams and then getting to do bigger projects and stuff at an earlier age. Then the academic focus as well, the way it mentally, emotionally, spiritually shaped us to be storytellers. So we give my parents a lot of credit and a lot of gratitude for that.
Yeah. So cool. How many siblings do you have?
Aaron: I’m one of four. Then Chad, my other kind of set of cousins who did a lot of movies with us, they’re five. So those were our core families that we started with. Many of us are still involved in creative endeavors. But we’ll jump together to work on projects at different times. It’s really, fun.
Yvette: That is so cool. We often talk about life schooling and the advantage of Homeschooling because you get to just do real life. We have some friends, the McCoskeys, and Matthew, their son, he’s working on a film right now. Basically this whole school year, he has directed this film with a group of other friends of his and his siblings. Very much like you did with Pendragon. Where they’ve done the costumes, they’ve done the sets. I mean it’s just incredible what these kids have done.
I was talking to his mom a few weeks ago and she said, you know, sometimes I think, man, you know, we haven’t really done very much spelling or math or writing this year. I’m like the kids making a movie. I mean, it’s incredible. These kids together, they’ve written this script, they’ve acted it out. They’ve had to do all the business behind it. They’ve had to do all the funding and financing behind it. It’s just amazing.
When you think about education, whether it’s Homeschool, public school, private school, whatever. The whole goal of education is to raise up these children to become, productive, successful adults in the adult world. Well, when you get that firsthand experience, that hands on experience, you don’t need a classroom to do that. You get to actually do it in real life. What an incredible blessing. How old were you when you did Pendragon?
Aaron: So, I started writing Pendragon when I was a senior in high school. We’d been working for several years to make several big projects before that. That was the first feature.
Yvette: What an amazing opportunity you have had to do that. Our girls are very much in that same boat. We’ve been traveling and making this movie for the past two and a half years. So they’ve been able to see the business side of this and the filming side of it as well. Our 13 year old, she’s actually done some of the filming for the movie. So she’ll have a camera credit on the movie, which is really cool.
Aaron: That’s great.
Yvette: Yeah, it’s just so much fun and we get to just be a family and be together.
Aaron: It’s something that I really enjoy being a family and being able to be together. That’s a huge thing to learn together, and to learn in those real life situations and to get to see what you’re … Get to interact with your kids in a variety of different situations and talk through those life issues.
Aaron: In the context of doing something together is something that we loved. We really enjoyed it.
Yvette: Talk about your relationship with your siblings now. So now you, you grew up together, you got to do all kinds of fun projects together. You Homeschooled together. What are your relationships look like now as adults?
Aaron: Yeah, so my oldest sister, Marilyn, lives in Ireland now. She went on a missions trip several years ago to Ireland, and then married the camp director. So we lost her over there. She actually just had her first baby and so my parents are in Ireland this week visiting them. So that’s more challenging to keep in touch and work on things together long distance. But then my younger brother Mason … So when we did Beyond the Mask, she was our wardrobe designer, so she did that for us.
Of course, my younger sister Shannon is a photographer and a writer. So she also managed the doctor’s office between writing gigs. So she is working for me now on Overcomer, doing their behind the scenes book. Then she did the same thing for us. She’s our onset photographer, and did all the behind the scenes for me on Beyond the Mask. Then my youngest brother Nathan, he is an engineer. So he did all our props and all our mechanical work on Beyond the Mask. Then when he finished, he went to engineering school and that’s what he’s doing now. I definitely enjoyed working with my siblings, having a chance to work through some of those things, and have a chance to spend time together in doing it. So yeah, they all depending on the project and depending on their availability, they’ll all jump back in to help us at various times with different elements of it.
Yvette: So, it’s really a lot of fun just to have that community. We have our family WhatsApp thread, which we keep touch. Keeping us that way, sharing updates and answered prayers and prayer requests and challenges for the project and for family things. So that’s something that we’ve really tried to use even as our family is spread around the globe to still stay connected using our smart phones for some things that’s actually positive.
Yeah, they can be good sometimes. Looking back in your journey of being Homeschooled as a kid, what would you do differently if you could’ve changed something about how you were Homeschooled or something with your, I don’t know, your family life or whatever. Is there anything that you would change?
Aaron: Ouch, now you’re asking me to rat out my parents.
Yvette: No, no, no, nothing that’s going to offend your mom or your dad.
Aaron: Let’s see-
Yvette: Maybe even something like for yourself, like I don’t know, maybe-
Aaron: Something I’ve found is each kid is different. So for me, I really, so I compose the score. We did music lessons all growing up and playing orchestral stuff, which I loved. But for Pendragon, I composed a score for it with my sister. I found myself getting depressed after working on it for 12 hours a day in the basement.
I’m like, I love music. I love music theory. I love composing. What is wrong with me? Why do I feel so sad right now? I realized it’s just, I’m wired as an exhorter. I’m as a people person, so some of that for me, I just don’t do well by myself spending days and days at a time.
So, looking back, most of my siblings could go either way. You know, they’re not as much super hard drivers. Like my younger brother, he’s very comfortable to spend the whole day by himself and work on things and be productive and get stuff done, he’s fine that way.
But for me being Homeschooled, one of the things was, hey, I want to be talked to and do more things. So in the later years of Homeschooling, my parents put me on a basketball team at a local Christian school. Put me in orchestras and choirs and things so that every day I was doing outside interaction.
It’s something that I would encourage parents, and my parents were great about listening and having these conversations throughout. By saying each kid is different, and just because it works for one kid doesn’t mean it’s going to work for another. Being able to shape, and that’s one of the values of Homeschooling, you can do whatever is possible for your kid.
So that’s something that, I think whenever we ran into one of those bumps, then we’d say, okay, well what is an adjustment that you make that will help you with your learning and those kinds of things.
Aaron: I’m thinking back to some of the old curriculums that we used were pretty outdated. Some of the phonics memorization books that we had back when I was a little kid. Then you see, you’re other siblings have these fun games and songs and prizes. I would say, what’s up with that, I had to learn it the hard way. But overall we did have a good experience.
I think once we recognized the differences between different kids, that was a strength. Something else I’ll say, and this is something that we learned. With what was standard, and how do you decide, okay, as a Homeschool, you’re teaching your kids out of Homeschool. Okay, why did you decide to do that?
Well, you know, lots of different reasons, but one element is we want to keep them protected from the world. I would encourage parents to really think about the choices they make in that category. As you have high standards of what you will and won’t watch, also remember that where does evil come from?
Evil doesn’t come from without it comes from within our own heart. So we are our own greatest danger to ourselves. I think that’s something that I wouldn’t blame anyone but myself for this. But I grew up through high school and into college with more of a self-righteous bent, it’s fine. I’ve kept myself clean from these different kinds of things that other bad people do. No, that’s not how it works. Yes, God cares about our actions in terms about our holiness and those things, but first of all, He cares about our hearts. He wants us to live and walk in humility in line with Him. Have that relationship with Him, and out of our hearts flow what we do with our hands. So that’s something that I think is something that we’re talking about with my wife and I with our kids and processing through. Again, it’s a new generation, everything’s changed. You can’t even try to apply the same standards from a generation ago to today.
So, thinking through those things and making sure that as we pray through what should those decisions be like. Recognizing that no matter how we organize and structure things, it’s often the Lord that has to rule in our hearts and our lives.
Yvette: Yeah. Let’s park on that for a minute because I think that’s a really great point. Oftentimes, Homeschool parents can become kind of self-righteous in the idea of, well we Homeschool. So we’re obviously so much better parents than other people who might put their kids in school. Obviously that’s not true. Parents love their kids unconditionally with everything in them. But teaching our kids, we want our girls to grow up to love Jesus with all their hearts. As you were growing up, when did you really recognize in yourself that your faith was becoming your own and not what your parents wanted it to be because you were Homeschooled?
Because that can often happen where, I mean we’ve seen it happen a whole lot where kids are Homeschooled and so parents are like yep, box checked, kids are Homeschooled. We’ve done all the right things, we’ve checked all the right boxes. We’ve raised them up to love Jesus. Then they go out into the world and they just go off the rails. I mean they don’t know what to do with this whole world around them. At what point did your faith become your own?
Aaron: I would say it’s a gradual process. I think some people will go and put like this an exact moment where you just say, I look at Peter, and did Peter become a believer of Jesus when he left everything to follow him? Was it when he made the profession that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God? Or was it in the fish fry on the beach or where Jesus said, I forgive you and I want you to feed my sheep? Which one of those moments was it when his faith became real?
I know for me it was, it was a process over time. But I think until, as long as you live under your parents’ rule, you don’t know for sure in a way if your faith is yours or it’s their rules. So there’s this kind of transition where all of sudden you realize you’re not under their rule, and you can make whatever decisions you want.
Then you have to ask, okay, what do I really believe. My kids are little, I’m so much a learner in the parenting category and it’s something I’m eager to get advice and input from others. But something that we’ve been praying about and thinking about is, okay, what can we do to give our kids more rope, as it were, to let them fail earlier. Let them try and learn and make mistakes while they’re still, while we still have a voice that we can speak into their life.
What can we do to expose them to the world and expose them to these things in a way that there’s not just this huge curiosity mic as they’ve been held back from all those things? But that we can expose it to them in a context that we can have a discussion about it and say, you see how these decisions or words set up the world.
If you make these decisions, this is where it leads. Those kinds of questions and those kinds of things. So that they’re not “sheltered” in such a way that when they leave, the curiosity is so strong or the hatred of the way that we run things is so strong that they want to go out and explore it for themselves. But that we can experience that with them. So that’s something that I don’t know practically how to execute on that. That’s something that we’ve talked about and thought about before.
Yvette: Yeah, I think it’s constantly a learning process. You know, our oldest is 13 right now and we’re hitting those teen years. I feel like every day there’s just a new excitement about the teen years, and then new challenge that comes with it. But it’s really fun because if we’re intentional as parents and really paying attention to our kids and to their needs. Like you said, in your family you were able to talk through stuff with your parents.
I think being open with our kids and being able to really talk with them and talk, dig deep into their hearts and see how are you really feeling about this? What are your thoughts on this? Let’s walk through this together.
Yvette: It’s such a joy to be able to do that, and sometimes it’s a little bit scary, I’ll be honest. Because sometimes my girls will say something and I’m like, that’s not at all what we’ve taught you. That’s not what we believe. That’s not what God’s Word says. Where did you even get that from?
Aaron: Something that I would add to that. I was just talking with a good friend of mine who’s a pastor, a youth pastor. We were talking about standards versus God’s Word. I think that it’s easy in young people’s mind or for all of us to blur, okay, what does the Bible really say about that? There’s a huge hot button topic of what you watch, what you listen to, what you wear, what you consume.
Does the Bible really prescribe what kind of clothing we should wear? I don’t think that it does. There’s no verse that you can judge and say that clothing pleases God or not based on God’s Word. He gives us principles to apply.
Yvette: Sure, modesty.
Aaron: Yeah, exactly. Modesty, and appropriate and those are things you can have a conversation. But when it comes down to applying this, and He doesn’t give us specific standards for what kind of music to listen to or even what to consume.
So, you can say for my family, these are the principles. Be very clear about where the … now there are some things that are right and wrong, God says always tell the truth, and God says never cheat. God says that marriage is between a man and a woman. God says that, all these things that are very clear, very unequivocal. But then there’s also this moving out from there. How are you going to apply these things in your context?
That’s where wisdom and all those other things that come in. But making it a clear distinction between this is what the Bible says, and this is how to apply it. Then I think that was something that was a challenge for me in some of the church context and family context. Because then you say, so that’s a rule, that’s something that they made us do or made us avoid.
The Bible doesn’t say anything about that. So if we teach as doctrine the commandments of men as Jesus warns against. Then I think you can be in danger and say well, that’s just your opinion. I’m throwing out the whole baby with the bath water. So I mean I think people should land and have very strong standards and know exactly why they believe what they believe. Why they have certain rules in their home. I don’t think rules in your home are a bad thing at all you should actually have them.
Be careful what we communicate in them that we make sure that we discussed … The Bible actually says this, this is actually God’s World. No, this is our application of it, and this might vary. You might come to disagree with us some day. That’s okay, because while you’re in our home this is how we want to do it.
Aaron: That’s something that I think can be helpful as well.
Yvette: Yes. I agree with you wholeheartedly. We are unfortunately out of time for the Podcast. But if you have a few more minutes, I would love to continue the conversation. Because I have a few more points that I want to talk about. I want to talk about advice that you would give to any aspiring filmmakers. I know that there are a whole lot of Homeschool kids out there who really want to use the gifts that God’s given them through film. Also, I want to talk about that specific thing about using the gifts and talents that God’s given us for His kingdom. So you good to stand for a few more minutes.
Aaron: Yeah, that’s fine.
Yvette: Okay. All right. So we will continue on for Backstage Pass members. For those of you listening to the Podcast, if you are not familiar with the backstage pass membership, it is the Schoolhouse Rocked backstage pass membership gives you access to bonus material from the Podcast. It gives you all kinds of behind the scenes footage from Schoolhouse Rocked, the movie that we’re in production on right now. Lots of fun interviews and things like that. It’s a really great way to support the film right now.
We would love that. We would also love your prayers. If you guys would just continue praying for our family as we work through production on this movie. God is doing amazing things right now, and we are so grateful for those of you who have just stood by our sides and prayed for us over the last couple of years. We are so grateful for that. So please continue to do that.
If you have not yet signed up for the newsletter, please do that. It’s so funny, I talk to people all the time and they’ll ask me questions and I’ll say, well, did you get our latest update? They’ll say, well, no, I don’t think I get your updates. I’m like, well, sign up for the newsletter and you’ll know what’s going on with us. So if you just click here and fill out the form that just goes to us and you’ll get our updates. But Aaron, thank you for your time today. Where can people find out more about you and what you’re doing?
Aaron: We have a website, Burns & Co Productions.
Aaron: Then our Facebook page, I fear it’ll be on the mass Facebook page and probably post updates there.
Yvette: Okay. Okay. Sounds great. We’ll put those links in the show notes, so thank you so much for being on today and we will continue this conversation.
I, of course, have been preaching on this for 20 years. That if what you want is a person who is good at speaking and writing, the single most important thing to do every day is read out loud to them in huge quantity, all through childhood.
Yvette Hampton recently had the opportunity to talk with Andrew Pudewa, for the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, about the importance of reading aloud to our children. They also discussed the ideas of mastery of subject matter and maximizing our homeschooling time by teaching integrating multiple subjects. Andrew Pudewa is the founder of the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). He is a popular speaker and author, who has been talking to homeschool families around the world for 30 years. We were privileged to have been able to interview him for Schoolhouse Rocked and have been blessed by the support of IEW as a gold sponsor of the film.
Yvette Hampton: As we’ve filmed for Schoolhouse Rocked and talked to so many people, including you about education and the educational system. One of the conclusions that I have come to is we seem to think that all of our kids need to master every single subject – straight A’s. That’s the thing. Every kid must get straight A’s.
Even colleges want these kids to get straight A’s. And you have talked about, basically, doing what the public school system does is they learn to the test. I mean they basically learn so they can pass the test so they can move on with their life. Whether it’s something that they’re interested in or not. And as I’ve looked at my own kids and I’ve looked at other kids and interviewed so many people, I’ve realized God has not created all of us with a bend to master every single subject.
You talked about science, your passion is music, I know, and English and language arts. It’s not science. And so why do we pressure these kids to have to ace every single thing? And I’m not saying that they don’t need to learn the basics of science and the basics of history and the basics of all these … writing and all these different things. But not every one of us is created to be a historian and a scientist and a writer and all these different things.
And I just feel like we pressure our kids so much to become something that God did not intend for them to be. And we’ve often told our kids, and I’ve said this on the podcast before, “You have to learn to read well so that you can read God’s word. And you have to learn to write well so that you can write about him. And you have to learn the basics of science so that you can understand the universe and the world that God created. And you have to learn the basics of history so that you can understand the history of God’s world.”
But I don’t feel that it’s necessary for them to master every single one of these subjects in order for them to have succeeded in school. What is your opinion of that as you’ve talked to parents and educators?
Andrew Pudewa: Well, it’s always a balance between … There’s kind of your core knowledge, I think. There’s cultural literacy, there are things that everyone … To be an American citizen, a literate American citizen, things you should know. And so we do try to cover that. And I think when E.D. Hirsch wrote Cultural Literacy, and then that came into the Core Knowledge Foundation and that came into the What Every Third Grader Needs to Know series of books.
Now, that was very helpful in reminding us that pretty much, we’re either natives or immigrants by birth. But what binds us together is this shared cultural literacy, knowledge of Western civilization, familiarity with some good and great books and all that. So there is that, but then there’s also the question of how much chemistry do you need to have some literacy?
The funny thing is, I think all of us who went to high school, if you said, “Well, okay, you spend a year in biology or chemistry or whatever, of that book, of everything you studied over that year, what percentage of it did you remember or still know one year after that class was over?” Well, I mean most people are saying like five percent, if you’re a genius. Two percent if you’re normal.
Yvette: Unless you are really interested in that and want to be a chemist.
Andrew: Right. And then you go and you study it more. That reactivates that. So how much do we need of a subject to say, “Yes, I’m familiar with that in a way that makes me able to get the jokes and understand and read.” I think a lot of it is we teach a whole lot of that stuff in high school so that people will retain a little bit into adulthood. Maybe that’s not the most efficient way to do it, however. Maybe there’s a way to say, “Well, maybe we could do less, and then less is more.”
One thing I’ve noticed about my kids, and we were talking about this a little bit, you and I before, is that so much of what they remember and took into adulthood wasn’t in the textbooks. It was in the storybooks. It was in historical fiction novels. It was in the books that involve various elements of science and government and literature and things. Literature, well, that is books.
I’m thinking, for example, of Swiss Family Robinson. That is an adventure story, but it’s also practically a primary natural history of Oceania and New Guinea. I mean there’s so much stuff about animals and geography in there. So the author of that, he understood to catch the imagination of kids, you tell them a good story. And while they’re listening, teach them stuff.
That’s what I think parents who discover that they can often find their kids learn so much more and remember it. See, that’s the trick. They carry it with them into the future, future years, from the read-alouds that they do at home. And choosing many good and great books that have historic illusions, geographical information, biographical information.
Like I said, sometimes natural sciences, government elements, they’re all often … A good book is a good book because people say, “Wow, I learned a lot from that. It was fun and I learned a lot.” That’s what made it good. How else would you define a good book? It was entertaining. But if you could have it’s just entertaining versus it was enjoyable and I learned a lot. Well, that’s kind of a no brainer. What would you choose?
This transcript is generously provided by MakeCrate. MakeCrate provides your homeschooler with the STEM skills they need for the future! Fun, hands-on electronics kits paired with an online learning platform teach your middle or high schooler engineering and coding fundamentals right at home! No technical expertise is required. Order your MakeCrate today at MakeCrate.Club/SR.
Yvette: Yeah. And that perfect. I love that answer. One of the questions that we actually got from one of our listeners was, she asked how can read-alouds cross subject barriers and maximize our homeschooling hours, science, literature, theology, history, ethics, all in one? And that perfectly encompasses that. I mean, you can read a good book and it can encompass all of those things at one time instead of breaking them out into different subjects.
Andrew: Yeah. And I, of course, have been preaching on this for 20 years. That if what you want is a person who is good at speaking and writing, the single most important thing to do every day is read out loud to them in huge quantity, all through childhood. Because that more than anything is formative. It’s forms the vocabulary base, it forms the database of syntax and grammar patterns. It builds a stock of literary devices, schemes and tropes of rhetoric, and it will build in general knowledge.
It’s funny, I’ll meet kids who seem to just know so much. It’s like you say something and then they say something and you’re like, “Wow, how did you even know that?” And then I’ll talk to their mom, go, “What do you do?” “Well, we don’t really have … We’re not all that organized. We just read a lot.”
Yvette: Yeah. I love it. And I’ve actually heard you speak several times about the importance of not reading, because I think a lot of people think, “Well, we read a lot to our young kids who don’t yet know how to read.” But you’re talking about reading aloud to our kids who are even in high school, to our teenagers.
Yvette: Talk a little bit about that, because I love this. And for those of you who have not heard your take on this, they need to hear it. Because this has literally changed our homeschooling, and I read to my girls all the time and they … Well, my eight year old is still becoming a strong reader, but my 12 year old, of course, can read. But she loves me reading to her and I love reading to her. And talk about that for a minute.
Andrew: Well, I think we do tend to kind of fall into the mistake of as soon as a kid can read on their own, it’s like, “Oh, great. You can read to yourself now. That’ll free me up to do Peng and The Beautiful Yangtze River here one more time with the four year old.” So we tend to favor the younger children. But my argument is that it’s when kids read on their own that they most need to be read to at a level above their own decoding skills.
They need to be read to the things they would not, or could not read on their own. Because if they just read what they can read, they’ll keep reading what they can read. That’s easy. But they won’t necessarily try to read something that has longer sentences or more obscure illusions or more complex vocabulary, because it’s harder. And so they’ll either skip stuff or they kind of say, “Well, I don’t like that.”
But if we read to them, if they get it auditorily, we not only don’t skip stuff, we read all the words, we read it in the right context with the right vocal nuances that help improve comprehension. That’s actually how you improve reading comprehension, is not by throwing books at kids and saying, “Here, read this and take a test to see if you understood it.” We create reading comprehension by reading out loud to them at above their own … at a level above their own reading level, and talking about that. That’s what creates the understanding of the vocabulary and the idioms and the more complex ideas.
So, a lot of kids in school, they read, read, read, read, read, read, read, but they kind of do lateral shifts. And then as adults, they don’t want to read a great book like Jane Eyre or Ben-Hur or something. It’s too hard. So if we want our kids to enjoy reading harder stuff, the absolute best way is to bring them into that world by starting reading it to them and talking about it, defining it, understanding it.
Yvette: Yeah. I want to actually encourage any moms or dads who are listening to this who might be intimidated by that. Because I’ll tell you, I did not … I know how to read, obviously, and obviously when I graduated high school, I knew how to read. But I was not a strong reader. I didn’t not grow up reading books. My parents never really read to me. I remember them reading Cinderella and Green Eggs and Ham. Those are the only two books I ever remember my parents reading to me over and over again.
And so when I got out of high school, I was not a super strong reader and I hated to read aloud. I was the kid that whenever the teacher was … we were reading Romeo and Juliet or whatever it was we were reading. And they would say, “Okay, so-and-so is going to read next.” And I mean, I would start … My palms would start sweating and I would start getting all shaky and nervous because I hated to stand in front of my class and read.
And right after I got married, I was 20 when Garritt and I got married. My very first job was … I was a preschool teacher and I remember sitting down and they were like, “Okay, go read to this group of four-year-olds.” And I mean, I was reading again, obviously, preschool books. They were Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat, things like that. And I was terrified to read in front of these kids, not because I didn’t know how to read the books, but there was just something about it. There was something about standing in front of these little kids or sitting in front of them and reading out loud to them. Because I felt like I was going to fumble on the words and it was just terrifying to me.
And of course, over the years, I’ve become a much stronger reader. And now I read to my girls all the time. And so I want to give that encouragement to moms who, and dads, who maybe are just intimidated by the idea of reading aloud to their kids. Even if you have teenagers, just do it. I mean, the more you do it, of course, the better you get at it. I love to read now. I love to read aloud, but I also love to just read on my own. And it just opens up a whole new world of learning, not just for your kids, but for yourself.
But it can be scary, because we’re not all excellent readers and not everybody grew up knowing or learning how to read aloud in a really effective way. So anyway, I love it now. It took years for me to learn how to love reading a lot, but I love it-
Yvette: Oh, of course. Yeah. She’s one of our cast members on Schoolhouse Rocked. Absolutely. We’ve talked with her.
Andrew: We should get your listeners connected up with her if they are not already, because she’s so encouraging, particularly in that area of read aloud. I would also love to mention that a lot of what I’ve been teaching and speaking about for the past many years, I’ve written articles. And those articles are now all collected into one book, and it’s available. And did I give you a copy?
Yvette: You did. Yeah, I’ve got it.
Andrew: Okay. My book, However Imperfectly, Lessons From 30 Years of Teaching. So that’s available at our website, along with all of our product stuff, IEW.com. And you can also, of course, call us or text us or email us if you have any questions about teaching writing to your children or spelling or literature or early reading. We’ve got materials for all of that.
Yvette: Yeah. We’ll link back to all those things for sure. Let me ask you one more quick question, and I know Sarah Mackenzie, Read-Aloud Revival is her podcast. I’m sure many of our listeners have heard it. She has an excellent podcast, and I think you’ve been on her podcast a few times now, right?
Andrew: Well, Yvette, when I get envious of her big numbers, I just remember, I was her first.
Yvette: I know, I remember. I remember. It’s an excellent interview too. She’s so encouraging when she talks about the importance of read-alouds. And so one of the things that she has is a book list and she has an excellent book list. I love the way it’s categorized. It’s by age and it’s just a great book list. But do you also, is there an IEW book list somewhere or what do you use? When parents ask you, “Okay, I want to read aloud to my kids. How do I find great literature to read to them?” Where do you direct them?
Andrew: Yeah. Well, we have three. One is a free list, you can just get it off the downloads tab off our website, IEW.com. It’s called Books for Boys and Other Kids Who Would Rather be Making Forrts All Day. And it is divided just into elementary, middle and high school reading levels. We also have, we sell a book by Adam Andrews whose website is centerforlit.com. His course is called Teaching the Classics, and he has a book called Reading Roadmaps, I believe.
The one we published, which is the most extensive book list I’ve ever seen is called Timeline of Classics by a homeschool mom, Gail Ledbetter, and it can be got in ebook form or you can get a paper spiral bound from our website. And it’s got well over a thousand books listed. And they’re organized in time periods. So they were either written about or written in that time period. It goes from ancient all the way up to modern, tells the author and gives the approximate reading level. And that’s a resource that people probably use for their whole life.
Yvette: Yeah. Okay. That’s great. I’ll link back to all those. And then I know one that I’ve really enjoyed is Hunting for a Child’s Heart. That one has some great book recommendations and little blurbs on each book, which is awesome. So we will link back to all those things. But I feel like we could talk forever and ever. So we will definitely love to have you back on the podcast again at another time. And we can talk about more things homeschooling and how to encourage and equip parents who are on this journey of home educating their kids. But thank you so, so much, Andrew, for your time today. I know you are a busy man, so we appreciate you taking the time to talk.
You can find Andrew Pudewa and IEW online at IEW.com.
Andrew Pudewa recommends the following resources in his interview.
The longer I homeschool, the more I realize that establishing a proper foundation for education is critical. While teaching knowledge is important, we are told in Proverbs that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” It is critical that we teach character and worldview, but we know that if character and worldview aren’t based on truth of God’s Word they are worthless.
Hannah Leary is a 2015 homeschool graduate and serves as the cohost of the National Bible Bee competition. As the winner of the inaugural National Bible Bee Game Show and a competitor in the National Bible Bee competition for six years, through it she’s been encouraged to study scripture on her own and has memorized 12 books of the Bible. I had the chance to talk with Hannah about her experiences with the Bible Bee, Bible study, scripture memorization, her homeschool education, and more for the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. (4/29/2019 episode)
Yvette Hampton: Hannah, I am so excited to talk with you. I’ve been really looking forward to this conversation. I heard you several months ago when you did an interview with Dr. James Dobson. You were talking about the National Bible Bee and I actually looked you up because I was like, “who is this girl?” Such an amazing testimony and you are one of those girls, I’ve met you personally briefly, but just reading through your bio and just doing some research on you, you’re one of those girls that I look at, and I just think, “Oh, if my girls could strive to learn to love God’s Word the way that you love God’s Word…” That is our whole purpose in homeschooling them. So I would love for you to tell your story. I know you have a pretty neat personal testimony, just about how God has used your time and his Word during your middle school years and high school years specifically to prepare you and equip you for your adult life. Tell us your testimony. Tell us about what you’ve done.
Hannah Leary: Thank you for your kind words. Praise the Lord for what he’s done. I guess just to start off, I’ve grown up Christian home my whole life. My dad’s a pastor. I was homeschooled all the way through, and so the Bible and the gospel were nothing new to me growing up. I’m very thankful to have known the gospel and the Word of the Lord at such a young age and to come to know him personally as my savior at the young age of four. Often times people are like, oh, when you’re saved at a young age you don’t have this exciting testimony, but I’m very thankful that, and I’m very excited that the Lord gave me the opportunity to know him while I was young and that he even spared me from a life of hardship and figuring it out later and just giving me that amazing privilege to know him in the days of my youth.
Hannah: That started at the age of four personally for me and really as I was getting into my middle school and high school years, specifically around the age of 11 and 12 is when I really started to understand that I needed to make my relationship with the Lord something that affected all of my life and to surrender the entirety of my life to him. It was around that time when I heard of the National Bible Bee. We just saw an ad a paper and I had done spelling bees and geography bees in the past and I saw this and I was like, “Oh Mom and Dad, I would love to, could we do this, is this something you think our family could do?” And so we signed up, but we didn’t know anything about it or what we were getting ourselves into, but we jumped in. I had just turned 12 and that summer we received all these verses to memorize and these books to study. That was the first year the National Bible Bee was even in existence.
It’s changed a lot since then, but that first year for me, as a 12-year-old young person, I memorized probably 1800 verses in preparation for the competition. It was just amazing to me to realize, and I’m a competitive person so I maybe didn’t have all the right motives at the time, but it was really amazing to me to see through that study how much, how exciting God’s Word can be and how immersing myself into it for such long periods of time the benefits of that could reap. Once the competition finished that fall, I was looking at some of what I had studied and realized, oh, I had a little bit of Ephesians 1 memorized and a bit of Ephesians 2 and some Ephesians 4 et cetera, I was like, oh, I might as well memorize the whole book.
Yvette: You might as well.
This transcript is provided by MakeCrate. MakeCrate provides your homeschooler with the STEM skills they need for the future! Fun, hands-on electronics kits paired with an online learning platform teach your middle or high schooler engineering and coding fundamentals right at home! No technical expertise is required. Order your MakeCrate today at MakeCrate.Club/SR.
Hannah: Yeah, exactly. I went ahead, in the off seasons of Bible Bee, went ahead and memorized books of the Bible on my own. It just became, it became a passion of mine and the competition and the program of the National Bible Bee as it developed, it was just a really fun, motivating way to get into the Word of God and to develop friendships around it and to study alongside my family and my siblings. It was something that was definitely a huge part of my life for most of my middle school and high school years. Throughout the competition, my junior year of high school I was competing and I advanced to the semi-final round of the National competition and at that time I was really, very motivated by the competition, really wanted to do well, didn’t make it past there and was kind of like, oh, like, I don’t know if I should do this anymore, I’m almost a senior, there’s a lot of other things starting to vie for my time.
During that off-season, I started studying the book of Ecclesiastes and digging into that book and really struggling as a junior in high school with, “okay, what is my purpose in life. What am I here for? What’s this all about? Is the Word of God, is studying his Word worth it? What am I doing with my life?” And Ecclesiastes just has such an interesting answer to that is, Solomon goes through and says everything is vanity and knowledge and wisdom are vanity and riches and wealth and work and all those things, are all vanity and so as I’m studying this, I’m realizing, okay, what am I supposed to do, how is this supposed to affect me in my life and that summer I started working and I was getting close to graduating high school and trying to think, “okay, what should I go into when I’m done” and just had a lot of different questions in my mind and I was kind of getting distracted from the possibility of doing Bible Bee and when that season rolled around again, I was like, I don’t know if this is something I want to do, especially in my senior year. And my dad’s like, “Hannah, you should do it, you should do it one more time.”
And so I decided to sign up and that year, one of the passages we had to memorize was Ecclesiastes 12. Long story short, I ended up in the final round of the National Bible Bee Game Show and I knew it was last time going to be competing and that fall I really had been struggling a lot with like I said, my purpose and what I was here for what the purpose of studying God’s Word was. Like, was it worth it to spend so much time in God’s Word, to know so much of God’s Word if I’m not going to win a competition, or you know, all these different things. My heart was really struggling and I was just asking God, “God please show me what’s the purpose in all this. Why do I need to know your word and what do you have for me next?”
It was in the final round of the game show that year and I knew it was my last passage I was going to be reciting and they asked me to recite Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 and even though I had studied it in the past and of course I had memorized it for the competition, as I started to recite it there in that round, the words just, the full impact of them hit me and the words spoke to me through them. It starts off by saying, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Before the difficult days come and the years draw near where you say, I have no pleasure in them”, and then it goes on to describe some of the hardships that you’re going to face in life and how eventually we’re all just going to die and a lot of this life is vanity, but then it concludes by saying, “This is the conclusion of the whole matter, fear God and keep his commandments for this is mans all. For God will bring every work into judgment including every secret thing whether good or evil.” And as I was reciting those words, the conclusion of my Bible Bee competition, just realizing that that was what it was all about.
I was supposed to remember my Creator in the days of my youth so that I could fear him and keep his commandments, and besides that, that is a very simple answer to a lot of our complicated answers and the weight of those words just hit me and I was in tears just thanking the Lord for the opportunity he had given me. Even though I didn’t always appreciate it in the moments of those six years studying God’s Word, but the grace he had given me and the opportunity he had given me to lay such a foundation in his Word throughout those six years, I was just incredibly overwhelmed with thankfulness. I still don’t know all the answers, I still am asking what’s next and all those different questions that any young person may struggle with, but even though I don’t know my future, I know the one who holds it. I’m just so thankful that I have that foundation and even though I’m not perfect, I feel confident in looking ahead because I know the truth and the Creator, the one who created this life and has my purpose planned out and planned for my life.
Yvette: Wow. That is seriously the most amazing testimony I think I’ve ever heard. That is so incredible. I love what God has done with you and I love your just transparency in that even though in the beginning maybe you didn’t feel like you were in it for all the right reasons, even if you didn’t win, it was okay. It’s one thing my husband, I have an amazing godly husband who leads our family in family devotions every day and I have a 13 year old and an 8 year old, and they’re both girls, and so both of them we really are working to help them to understand that they need to own their faith and their relationship with the Lord. It doesn’t what we tell them, it doesn’t matter what believe, it matters what they believe cause when they come face to face with Christ, he’s not going to ask them what did your mom and dad believe about me, and what did your mom and dad do to serve me, he’s going to say, what did you believe about me and how did you serve me?
We really are working especially with our 13 year old and it’s so funny, I think I’ve told this story on the podcast before, but when she turned 13 she really wanted to start wearing a little bit of makeup. We felt very convicted, not about her wearing makeup, I mean, obviously, just a small ounce like mascara, but we felt like she needed to become beautiful inside before she became beautiful outside. And the way to do that was to be immersed in God’s Word every day and so my husband said, “I’ll make you a deal,” he said, “You read your whole Bible cover to cover and you can start wearing makeup.” And so we let her wear it on occasion if there’s something special coming up or something like that we’ll let her wear a little bit, but before she puts one bit of makeup on, she has to spend time in God’s Word that day. That’s our deal with her. You spend time with the Lord first, become beautiful inside and then you can become beautiful outside.
So even though, there are times I’m certain where she’s not doing it so much to learn about God’s Word, she’s doing it because she wants to wear makeup, that’s okay because God’s Word does not return void. And we know that her being in God’s Word is going to transform her life more than anything else will. More than my husband reading the scriptures with us, more than her hearing about it in church or at youth group or anywhere like that, her being in it personally, is going to be what is going to impact her life the most.
It’s so exciting to hear your story about being involved in the Bible Bee and about what the Lord has done through that and I want to talk definitely more about that and I actually in a little bit want to talk with you about how you have dug into God’s Word. But first, for those who are not familiar with the National Bible Bee, can you kind of walk us through that? What did that look like for you? How do you get involved? What does that whole process look like?
Hannah: Yes, definitely. The National Bible Bee, its mission is to get kids into the Word of God, to know God’s Word, and then to be able to make him known. It starts out with an eight week summer study. It’s a little different then the first year I did it, how it’s developed now, but it starts with an eight week summer study and it’s designed for families to be able to do together. The ages are for ages seven through 18. There’s also a beginner level for ages five and six. But it takes them through a specific passage or book of the Bible. So last years study was in the book of James. Eight weeks you’re diving in, you’re getting an inductive study, teaching you kind of how to study the book, giving them context, allowing them to answer questions on their own and to really think through what it means, how to get into God’s Word and be giving them those tools and then there’s also two memory passages every day, every week I’m sorry. So 14 passages throughout the entire summer that they’re memorizing along with the study that kind of correlates with the study.
The great thing about the summer study program is that families can do it together because there’s three different divisions or age levels of the discovery journal, but they’re all studying the exact same book at an age appropriate level. I know personally in our family, we still use it during the summers for our family devotions and it’s something that we all can do together and read through the book and compare notes about what we’re learning and memorizing the same passages together. If you’re located near a host group, there’s also host groups, hosted by churches or homeschool groups, or just a family who’s like, “hey, I want to do this with other families in my community.” There’s that opportunity for those who are interested in doing it in a group study.
At the end of the summer, for those who are interested, there’s a Proclaim Day where students can come and celebrate what they learned, share some verses that they’ve memorized with an audience, and that’s kind of the start of the competition aspect. They can go on to take an online test, which qualifies them for the national competition where the top 360 across the country come at a national event this year it’s going to be in Covington, Kentucky in November. That’s when the competition kind of kicks into gear a little higher, there’s quite a bit more memory passages given, and another book to study on their own without the guide and discovery journal aspect. At the end of the competition there’s over a $100,000 awarded in prize money.
Yvette: Wow. You basically don’t get the information until summertime? For the November competition? So you can’t spend a whole year studying for it, you have a fairly short amount of time, so like you said, you really have to be dedicated to doing this through the summertime.
Yvette: What better way to spend your summer though?
Hannah: And it works so well, because of course throughout the summer there’s a little bit less structure when it comes to school and so having that structure of a Bible study and memorization program, just a fun and engaging way to keep kids in some sort of structure in one of the best curriculum possible, the Word of God. It’s a wonderful way to spend your summer.
Yvette: So cool. There are 10 kids in your family right? Where are you in that lineup?
Hannah: I’m the oldest.
Yvette: So what a great precedent you’re setting for your younger siblings. That’s so cool. So there’s 10 of you, and you all study this together. How, have other of your siblings participated in the Bible Bee as well?
Hannah: Yes. All of my siblings who are within the age of being able to join the actual study, five through 18, are always in involved in the summer study and then I also have three of my sisters qualify for the National competition as well. I love being able, of course, I’m not competing any more, but I love being able to come alongside them and help them study, encourage them, and we’ve had opportunities to be able to just to recite God’s Word together and church settings and ministry settings and that’s probably the biggest blessing to me, is just the opportunity to take what we’ve been given, what God has entrusted to us and blessed up with and be able to bless and inspire others with it. It’s one of my greatest joys.
Yvette: That is so incredible. I have a friend, I don’t know if I’ve told this story, but I have friend who I grew up with and she really had a hard time after high school. Her mom was very insistent on her learning the Word of God and just memorizing scripture and after high school she kind of went off the rail for a little bit and just made some poor choices and got to the point in her life where she felt like she couldn’t even open up the Word of God. Like she knew that she was living in sin, she knew she was struggling, but because of that she could not physically open up God’s Word and she said she just prayed one day, she’s like, God, you’re going to have to help me through this cause I can’t even open up the Bible right now.
And at that moment, all the scripture she had memorized starting pouring back into her mind and she’s like, I didn’t even know that I still knew that scripture. She had genuinely and literally, hidden it in her heart and it’s so cool, I mean, that was a huge turning point for her and she loves the Lord now and is serving him and it’s just so neat to see how God used what her mom had required of her when she was younger that she probably complained and fussed over, later in her adult life to bring her back to the Lord. It’s just so important to know scripture. We’re a family who’s very, very big on scripture memorization and I think people think that it’s too hard, you know, they, your kids can only learn John 3:16 and you know, or they just have to learn one little piece of scripture at a time and it’s not that hard. How do you go about memorizing all of that stuff cause obviously everyone has different learning styles, so not everyone’s going to do it the way that you did it, but how have you gone about and maybe even some of your sisters, how have you guys gone about memorizing these things?
Hannah: Yeah, that’s a great question. Honestly, for me personally, it’s just the discipline and the consistency of being in it every day. I will often say, your memory is a muscle, and so just like any other muscle in your body, it’s going to hurt when you exercise it the first few times and it’s hard to stretch it out and it’s going to be sore for those first few days or weeks, but then as you get into a consistent habit and pattern, it becomes more natural and it becomes something easy, easier to do as you go along. For me, I didn’t have any specific techniques that I used besides just being it on a consistent basis and reciting it over and over and over again.
Having my family involved was absolutely critical and huge to your point of just getting your family, just the Word of God that’s probably the biggest motivation I had and the support and encouragement that I received. Being able to memorize scripture as a family together, whether that was through family devotions or especially the competition aspect of my memorization, my dad would quiz me or my mom or siblings, but mainly my dad, and he would just listen to me recite. And so having someone there to recite back to, having that accountability, was a huge part of memorizing for me as well. Then I think a lot of those same things my sisters have used. My one sister, she really enjoys writing it out and so that’s one thing that she’s used. She’s a lot more artistic than me so she loves to see it.
My other siblings who, and especially my younger siblings I think, my youngest brother is almost two, there’s quite the range of kids, but I think even just having them hearing us older siblings reciting God’s Word, and so in family devotions, we might have a five verse or a 10 verse passage that we’re working through as a family, and the little ones might not be able to recite the whole 10 verses, but after hearing those first few verses, over and over, and over, and over, and over again, they can recite them just as well. So I think listening to God’s Word and especially for the younger ones, that, even without trying, you’re getting into their hearts and they’re picking up on it. They’re like little sponges.
Yvette: Yeah. You think about how easily kids can memorize songs or even books. You know, if you read them a book and you read the same book over and over and over again, they can read the book back to you without even reading it. They’ve just memorized it and they know every word that’s on every page and if you try to skip a page, you get in trouble cause they’re like, no wait, you forgot this part. But kids have an incredible ability to memorize and we’ve seen that with our girls. My oldest, Brooklyn when she was in fourth grade, I think, she did the AWANA a Bible quiz and it was really a neat thing. She was so excited about it and she and her friend placed second. The way that she ended up memorizing everything was she, she’s not a visual learner, she’s an auditory learner. She can hear a song one time and remember it seems like forever.
She knows songs. I’m like, how do you even know this song cause we don’t listen to this song and she’s like, I heard it in the restaurant. Okay. What I did was, I just recorded all of the things that she needed to memorize for Bible quiz on my phone and I just read through them and then she listened to them and she would be playing Legos or with her dolls, or drawing or coloring, or doing something with her hands and she would just listen to it over and over and over and over. So she didn’t even read it. I mean she could read it, but she didn’t. She didn’t enjoy learning it that way and so she would just continue to memorize it that way and she did great. I mean, it was a fantastic way for her to learn. Let’s talk about your homeschool journey. What was it like for you being homeschooled? Did you enjoy being homeschooled? Did you feel like it was a good thing for you or did you feel like you were missing out somehow on the amazing things that life has to offer to all kids? What was yours like?
Hannah: Honestly, it probably was one of the biggest benefits of my life and I can’t thank my parents enough for the time that they invested into my education through homeschooling and just taking that to a personal level and that they wanted to do that themselves and I am so thankful of, just as a general statement, I loved being homeschooled. Looking back, especially with my middle school years, I don’t know if I would have survived any other way of schooling, spiritually even. Just because being in a more sheltered environment really allowed my faith to flourish and I know God uses all environments and all stories, but I’m so thankful that he allowed my story to include that and being homeschooled. I really in just speaking to the missing out, you know the thing that people talk a lot, especially when it comes to socialization, people asking, “how are you being socialized?” I really appreciated it growing up. My dad’s a pastor and so we are very involved in our local church and community that way.
I’m very thankful for the opportunity that homeschooling gave me to interact with all generations and people and I definitely was blessed with some amazing peer friends, but also to be blessed with being friends people who are five years older than me, 10 years older than me, older people in our church who invested time and energy into informal mentoring and education that they gave me. At the same time, being able, as the oldest of 10, I was able to invest into those younger than me as well and so I’ve always grown up surrounded by kids and infants and babies, and those different things. I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to get a rounded zero socialization and to be surrounded by all sorts of people and given all sorts of opportunities to interact and to learn with so many different variety of opportunities.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s so cool and I love earlier you talked about in your off season from Bible Bee, you got to spend time memorizing God’s Word and if you think through that, you know, if you had been in traditional school and you had this very steady flow of homework that you had to and you were sitting in the classroom all day, you would not have had the time to press into God’s Word like you did and so what a blessing that was and what a gift that was for you to be able to spend that time just studying God’s Word cause that is absolutely amazing.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone. This is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I have a really exciting guest on with me today. Her name is Katie LaPierre, and you are going to be super encouraged by her. She is a mama of seven. I’m going to let her tell you a little bit about her family and … She’s a homeschool mom, who is in the thick of it right now, and just has some really neat advice and stories to share with us. She has a new devotional that just came out recently. So we are going to talk about those things today. So, Katie, welcome to the Podcast.
Katie LaPierre: Thank you so much for having me, Yvette.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. Yeah, I’m so glad to have you on. We got to meet you and your husband Scott when we were back in California still. But we went to Washington to film you guys for Schoolhouse Rocked, and you were a couple of our very first interviews that we got to do and I got to meet your amazing family. So, tell our listeners about your awesome family that you have.
Katie: We are in Washington, and my husband is the senior teaching pastor at a church, and we have seven children ages 11 and under. That’s about it.
Yvette: Well, you’ve got a sweet, sweet family. We have really enjoyed getting to know you over the last couple of years. We were just talking about social media and how amazing it is. Because you and I, we’ve only met one time in person. But it seems like we’ve been friends for a really long time. And like we actually kind of … do life together, like we know one another.
Yvette: That is much due to social media.
Yvette: So, I am excited about this conversation today. We have some fun things to talk about. Two things that I want to … kind of go down two separate roads with you, but I think they’re going to kind of bring it all back together is … We have asked our listeners, and we often get questions that come in from our listeners. One of the questions that we get, hands down more than any other question is, “How do you home school with multiple kids? How do you deal with younger siblings when the older siblings are doing school? How do you homeschool in a large family?” Just … organizing and trying to figure out how to to subjects with all the different kids. And so I know you are in the middle of that. You’ve been homeschooling for sometime now. Your oldest is 11. How old is your youngest?
And so you’re there. You are in the midst of that very thing right now. So, I would love to start by you sharing with us how you just kind of balance your day out, and then the second half of the Podcast let’s talk about this new devotional journal that you have that came out.
Katie: First, I would say it’s not balanced. I don’t … I cannot find balance to save my life. So, one thing I do though that I recommend every wife does is that she asks her husband, “Honey, what is important to you? What would you have done?” Because aside from homeschooling we’re also keeping the home, meal planning, there’s a whole bunch of things. I cannot believe all the things a mother has to do. I mean keeping track of everything is crazy and I consider myself a multitasker but this is like a new level of multitasking.
Katie: So first, you go to your husband and say, “Honey, what is important to you? What do you want done first?” And as wives we’re called to adapt to our husbands. So, my husband does not care about food. He will eat popcorn for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I will slave away making lasagna or something and homemade bread and he goes, “Can I have popcorn?”, you no, are you joking? So he doesn’t care about food. So, I’m like okay well one less thing. I can push that off to help me find balance, right? So then what’s left? Well we’ve got homemaking and homeschooling.
Katie: Now homemaking’s super important to my husband, so that’s part of our homeschooling. We do jurisdictions and chores throughout the day, and I … at this point the seventh child has really thrown me for a loop. It’s been probably the hardest. This is my first time having four kids five and under, and so it’s a lot harder. So, to keep the house clean we have to incorporate that into our schedule. I think you’ve done a Podcast with Durenda Wilson.
Yvette: I did.
Katie: I love her, and I love listening to her, and she just talks a lot about how important it is in our homeschooling that we are teaching work ethic. That should be a class all on its own, and so I incorporate that into schooling. We have a 30-minute schedule that starts at 8:30 actually. We don’t start breakfast until 8:30, because my husband’s a senior pastor at a primarily homeschooling church, these people stay up forever! So we’ve had schedule to stay up later and then sleep in later. So we don’t start breakfast ’til 8:30, and at 8:30 everyone sits down, we pray, eat breakfast and that’s when I do some kind of Bible thing with the kids. Right now we’re going through Wisdom with the Millers, and that’s like, my idle time with the children. After that, I have a 30-minute schedule that’s up on the fridge. We set the timer, and every time the timer goes off each kid knows what they need to be doing. I sound off, “Okay. Ricky has piano, Rhea needs to be doing creative literature and writing, Johnny’s doing Bible” … and that’s one way we do that. Another thing is, I actually started doing online videos for my five year old.
I will never do anything with kindergarten. You just need to throw some letters at them and some cards, have them look at colors. She is excelling, and I feel like I’m kind of shoving her in the corner because I’m trying to focus with my other kid that needs more help, and then she’s losing out.
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Katie: So I have one child that’s doing video learning, I have one child that needs a lot of one on one. Two children that are doing ACE curriculum, and they’re very … like totally good on their own. They know what they need to be doing. While they’re working, I have … He’s just turned four, two and eight month old. So I might be nursing the baby while the kid that needs work is sitting with me reading to me, and the other two we have what’s called pattern tiles … And so, they can be making patterns with their tiles, the two year old and the four year old. They play together really well. So I’ll often have some kind of activity for them, Duplos, race car tracks … Just as a side note, it’s really important when you have a bunch of kids that you have toys organized. You can’t just expect to send your children downstairs, or wherever the toys are … go play with toys. It just doesn’t work for big families.
So I have been sorting out my toys by category, and I am finding they are playing so much better. So I recommend that for moms with big families. Get your toys organized; categorized together and say, okay today you’re going to go play with the Hot Wheels. Sometimes they just need simple direction.
And they do have screen time sometimes. I don’t want to give this impression like my kids never look at a screen. They can do screens, but it’s purposeful. It’s often learning. My two year old now can count to 14 or 15 and that had nothing to do with me. That’s from a lot of these wonderful learning videos that are out there. And so they do that too. But it’s very parent directed and overseen. Does that kind of answer the question?
Yvette: Yeah it does. That’s helpful, and I like that gave very specific things. So when they’re playing with toys, I like that you give a specific like, go play with this toy today. Now do you keep some of your toys and activities set aside so that you can bring them out, you know, every couple of months so that it’s kind of a new toy. Because I’ve heard of moms doing that too, and I think that’s a fantastic idea. Then it’s like a brand new thing, instead of having all of their toys out.
Katie: Yeah that is a great idea. What I have done is I’ve organized them and labeled them in totes, and so I don’t go hide them. But like, right now we have like … I forget the word, a variety of toys in this tub. Random I guess … Miscellaneous. The Hot Wheels stacked on top of that, and then we have the Duplos. And so, right now the one that’s on top is the one they’re playing with the most.
And then I’ll switch them and move them around in that way. But we eliminated our toys down to Legos, Hot Wheels and puzzles. That’s pretty much it. Because I … What are my kids actually playing with? I don’t have time, energy or personality to go with organizing all this stuff all the time, keeping up with it. So that’s what we’re down to right now, and I find eliminating tons of choices, like little random toy over here … little random toy. The kids just get like distracted, overstimulated. They don’t know what to play with. So Scott would rather have us invest in one category of toy and spend a lot of money in that category, and so you should see our Lego collection, and now we’ve color-coded them. So all the red ones are in a tub, all the white ones, and then they can take them and build, and the boys will completely organize this Lego section that looks like … out of a store.
But that really helps, and I’m a huge proponent of if just because you have a shelf, or just because you have a closet or cabinet does not mean you need to fill it. I think we feel that way, like ugh, there’s this empty space I need to put something there. We don’t have to do that.
And so, books of course. I mean, books to me kind of fit in the toy category ’cause they’re fun. So books are a huge investment too that we love to have, and I just say go grab two books and sit on the couch. Nobody talk. Like three times a day, and that is a great way to gather everybody. If someone’s screaming they got hurt … Go grab two books and sit on the couch.
It’s a very easy go to. So, toys should be for our convenience and help. They should never be a burden like many other things in our home. But they become a burden. You know, I love that God says in James, “Pray and ask me for wisdom and I’ll answer.” There are not many prayers God says that about. I don’t know many other ones where He says ask me for this and I will answer.
And so, even as moms so we can say, “Okay Lord I need wisdom, even with toys. What do I do with these things?” Or I need, especially since we’re talking about homeschooling, “I need wisdom with homeschooling. This child’s falling behind. What do I do?” And I feel like God answered that. And always go to your husband. Seek his counsel too.
Yvette: Yes. I am right with you in regards to simplifying because we have … I remember when Brooklyn was born, you know your first kid, and we had so many things. I mean clothes, her closet. So I had three baby showers for her.
Katie: Oh wow!
Yvette: Her closet was ridiculously full of everything pink, because she was the first girl who had, we had … I mean we were married 11 years before she was born. So we had waited a long time. There was a big celebration of course.
And then as she grew into where she could play with toys, she had so many toys, and it was so overwhelming, and we got to the point where we started just getting rid of things that were not necessary, and I realized she’s not … she’s never played with this one thing. So, what I started doing with her from a very young age was I would say you know, honey … I know a lot of parents will … Well, and I will say I have done this before. But a lot of parents will try to kind of sneak those toys out of their home, and their kids pretty much never notice that they’re gone because they don’t play with them anyway.
But oftentimes I would say, you know let’s see what other child we can bless with these toys. And then it became an exciting thing for her, like oh there might be another kid who doesn’t have as many toys as me and we can go bless them, and so what a great way for them to learn from a really young age that it’s not all about them, and they can serve other people, and other children by providing them with their toys that they don’t play with.
And then, of course, we sold all of our stuff. For those who don’t know our story, about two and a half years ago we sold our house, all of our stuff in it, had to basically get rid of everything, and we loaded up in an RV and started traveling across the country, kind of road schooling and filming the documentary.
But we had to get rid of pretty much everything, and so we really had to decide, like what is really important. And we kept the Legos. We have lots of Lego still, and there are a few other things that we held on to. But honestly my girls haven’t needed a whole lot. You know, they’ve got dolls and Barbies. I mean Brooklyn’s 13 now. So she doesn’t play with those as much anymore. Except for with her little sister. But it seems to just kind of clutter your life when you have so many things and it just makes more work. It creates more of a burden for the whole family.
I want to ask you because you talk about, how well you know, you’ll say well this child is to go do Bible, this child is supposed to go do piano, this child is supposed to go do math or whatever. I imagine that with a family of seven kids that doesn’t always fall perfectly in line, and they all go their beautiful way without fussing and complaining and they’re completely compliant and say, “Yes, mommy,” and they all go do exactly what they’re supposed to do. Because I know kids are kids. How do you deal with making sure that they’re all doing what they’re supposed to be doing and trying to just keep from it being completely chaotic?
Katie: I would say that actually they do pretty well with schoolwork at this point. Going and doing the stuff that they’re supposed to do. That has not been much of an issue. My husband was a public school teacher for eight years before he became a pastor and that’s why he wanted me to homeschool is because he’s a public school teacher. And he said, “Routines and procedures. Routines and procedures”. I know I’ve heard that from him so many times, and often we expect our kids just to like fall in line.
Just do what I said. They have to practice it. So he will literally do things like, if a child forgets their plate at the table, you have to pick the plate up ten times, go to the kitchen put it in the sink. Pick it back up. Go back to the table. Because we are all like that, we all need … So we practice things. But this schedule at this point, it’s probably been about a year that I’ve been doing it, and they are on it. Now, at the beginning, yeah it’s messy and you just have to expect that. But I … if you have a personality like me that’s just kind of scatterbrained and all over the place, you need a schedule.
No matter how much you want to fight it, and set a timer. And no matter what that person’s doing at that point, they go to the next thing; even if they didn’t finish piano we go to Bible. And something really important, like there’s been a few times with math where they just are not getting it, and I’m like alright we have to stay on this subject. You’re going to skip creative literature and writing and do math for the next half hour. And we’re actually looking at doing more reading and writing. We’re considering changing our schedule to hour increments instead of 30 minute.
It makes a huge difference, and children want to know what to do. They’re looking to us to tell them what to do even if it seems like they’re fighting it and I’ve found there’s so much more peace in my home when we just do exactly what the schedule says and they want that ultimately. So I actually haven’t had that much resistance. It’s when chores come along and I say go get your chore, and they’re like flailing around in the kitchen and you’re not sure … what are you doing? That part gets a little bit messier.
Yvette: Yeah. Well the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go.” And we’ve talked about this on the Podcast before, and I love that you and Scott do that with your kids, that you train them to: “Okay you didn’t put your plate away. Go do it ten times”, because it’s training them in how to do it the right way. It’s not a punishment for them. It’s training them.
Katie: Yes, exactly. “Train them up the way they should go.” They don’t know which way to go. We have to train them.
Yvette: We do, and so often I think as parents we think that they know what is expected of them because we’ve maybe told them a couple of times … and we have to remember they’re children. They don’t always remember or naturally think, okay what is the most logical next step, is to put my plate in the sink, or put it in the dishwasher … and so they do need to be trained to do those things and that’s our job as their parents, to train them that-
Katie: Yeah, I’ve actually … in my devotional I have one where I talk about how our kids are new here, to planet earth, and we forget that, and so I tell parents, or mothers, look at this as if they’re on a new job site. You’re not going to like scorn some employee ’cause they forgot something and they’re brand new. Our children are new.
And then, like if we look at things in five-year increments, compare that to a month on a job. You know, so you’re training them. They’re new. You’ve got to expect that. You have to expect them to forget, you have to expect them to probably do [inaudible 00:17:00] them out. And if you are expecting these things, you’re not as offended, you’re not taking it so personally and you can have like, a more like work mindset. Okay, picture they’re your employee. You’re not going to get all fired up and emotional ’cause you’re the mother.
Sometimes it helps to separate ourselves like that. So that’s something else I’ve done.
Yvette: Yeah. Oh, that’s fantastic, because it’s not an offense against you personally. Though I think we take it that way sometimes.
Katie: Yes. We can see why we’re in charge. But ultimately they belong to the Lord. And they’re ultimately not working as unto Him. They’re not called the workers unto mommy. Although they do work for mommy, we try to tell them this. They’re working for the Lord. But it’s always unto Him.
Yvette: So Katie, you actually have a new devotional and journal that came out. It’s called Eternally Minded Mamas. Talk to us about that.
Katie: Okay, great yeah. First on the title: why I chose that title. Colossians 3:1-2 calls us to set our mind on things that are above where Christ is. And as moms, I don’t know about you but I find that harder to do than any other season in my life because we’re doing dishes. We’re getting up or … for me right now I’m getting up for the baby still at night, and I’m like, Lord how am I going to set my mind on things that are above?
I think sometimes we have to remind ourselves when we’re reading the Word, is this a command? Is this a suggestion? No. It’s … God’s commanding that, set your mind on things that are above, where I am. Don’t forget, and so, okay Lord I’ve got to continually do that. So my heart behind Eternally Minded Mamas was Lord, I want to help moms. Mother in the midst of the temporal mundane while keeping their minds set on You, on spiritual things. So, that’s where the heart was born out of was Colossians 3.
Katie: And then so I just have 31 daily devotionals that I tried to filter out any junk, and just make it a meaty, good thing for them to be able to sit down and be able to chew on all day. But it not take 40 minutes, and then I left a spot where they could write notes and gave some suggestions for questions on how they can apply what they read.
Yvette: One of the things that I’ve heard you talk about is that you don’t feel totally adequate as a mom, as a homeschool mom and we have seen that over and over as we’ve talked to moms, as we’ve interviewed moms for the Podcast and for the movie, is that none of us feel like we’re perfectly equipped to raise these children. We feel like we’re just … somehow we’re messing it up, and we can’t always put our finger on why we feel that way. But we feel like we’re just not enough, and I think sometimes it’s society telling us that. I think often times it’s social media. You know, we see the things on Facebook and Instagram and these perfect families that it seems that everyone else has. So it makes us feel like, “well we’re not doing this right. We’re not doing it as well as so and so.” And so, talk to that mama who’s just feeling … ’cause I know you’re in this place yourself, where God is really teaching you a whole lot of things about … You’re not enough. He is enough. You know, none of us are enough. None of us are big enough to do this. But with the grace and mercy of our savior we are enough to do this through Him. So talk about, just the season that you’re in and encourage that mama who’s feeling that way.
Katie: Oh it’s so good. I feel like I could talk about this for five hours. I think being in ministry too, everyone is so messed up. I don’t know if … I cannot tell you, even when I go to the grocery store, if I’m anywhere I’m like what’s their problem? They got a big mess. I don’t know what their name is but I’ll tell you they’ve got a big mess at home, and it’s just … Everyone is such a mess but we’re all so busy trying to make it look like that’s not the case.
So my husband and I are known in our church body in particular, for being very transparent about the mess we are. In fact, he just did a marriage conference like three hours east of here, and we talked in the Q and A about a big fight we had right before we came … and I think that’s just so important, and the more we’re putting on this façade of, you just need to discipline your kids right like I do. And so it ruins moms. It makes them feel like, ugh … like you said, “I’m never going to be like so and so. I’m never going to measure up.” So I’m just very transparent about how I tell Scott I feel like I’m in the wrong calling. I feel like a fish out of water. I had a woman come to me the other day. She’s a single young lady, she’s in her late twenties and she’s not married and she said, “Sometimes I wonder if I want to get married and have kids because I want to be in control.” And I’m like, “ugh it’s a nightmare being in control.” I just … I want to be their friend. I’m like, “can we hang out and play together?” I … just, nothing fits for me in being a mom … is what it feels like. But that’s why I’m so comforted when God says in your weakness I am strong. I’m so glad He never said, in your strength Katie, I’ll show myself strong. He says your weakness. You feel pathetic. Perfect, that’s exactly where I want you!
Katie: And I’m crying out to him constantly. I feel like I’m unorganized, I am inconsistent, I am all over the place, these different things that people say you can’t be that way and be a good mom. But I’m called to be their mom. I am Rhea’s mom. That is the position that God has put me in, and so I have to trust like David did, or Moses. All these men that felt like, Lord you’ve got the wrong guy.
You know, he’s called you to mother your two girls and He’s like, designed that. As messy as it may feel sometimes, or, is that inadequate? And I would say that to any mom, Yeah you’re a total mess just like everybody else. But God’s called you to this. He’s going to equip you and be like, don’t be like Moses and say, “Lord please send somebody else.” I don’t want to do it. And just embrace the messiness.
I tell people that. If you embrace the messiness and stop fighting it so much, it gets a lot easier.
Yvette: Oh, I love that. I was thinking this morning actually that I have days sometimes … I don’t have days where I feel like I don’t want to be a mom. I love being a mom. I waited a long time to be a mom, and I genuinely love being a mom. But I have some days where I feel like I just don’t want to do this adult thing today. Like, I don’t want to do … It’s not that I don’t want to do anything. It’s not like I want to sleep all day. But I just don’t want any responsibility for anybody or anything. I don’t to want to homeschool, I don’t want to have to train my kids, I don’t want to have to podcast. And I love everything that I do. I love my life. But I just want to check out for a few days sometimes. And so sometimes I have to be brought back to the reality of, “this is where God has me.” He has me exactly where He wants me to be. I have the perfect family that God has put in my life, and I’m so grateful for that, and I think so much of it is keeping perspective of how God can use us and will use us if we will allow Him to. And … But it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s really hard, and like you said, we’re all a mess in our own different ways and that’s hard to admit sometimes for people. I just did a podcast with Karen DeBeus and we talked about getting real, and we were just talking about this very thing-
Where we feel like we need to put on this pretty show for everybody and always you know, just look a certain way and act a certain way and that’s hard. It’s hard to show your mess to people. But I think there’s so much freedom in it when people see that we’re not perfect. We’re … you know. There are so many days where every single one of us because we’re humans, are just kind of falling apart. And then we have days when we’re not. You know… Hopefully this is not an everyday thing.
Katie But I think this is so important that our kids see this too.
Katie: I’m not saying our children’s salvation depends on us. I think they have free will. I know God’s sovereign. But I have seen a common theme especially in homeschooling families where kids are walking away ’cause they’re sick and tired of putting on a show. I don’t want to be that. So we’re a mess with our kids. We talk with how mommy just messed up again. We actually … I don’t know if any other family does … we go round the table and talk about our weaknesses. About how so and so’s controlling and needs to work on that, and it’s not a question of if you’re messed up. It’s just a question of what they are. So getting our kids used to talking about that stuff early on. Our kids have a large voice in our lives. Some people think that we border maybe on disrespect. But we really want them to be able to talk to us. And sometimes you’ll see in the homeschooling circle, it’s like, you act like this when we go in public, and you look like this. So and so’s going to be there. They’re going to be watching us. That stuff ruins our kids. So we let them talk to us. We let them confront us. Hey, daddy I didn’t like how you said this. I wish you wouldn’t have done that.
And it is so important that that transparency goes into the home. So that our kids, when they’re struggling with their faith, when they’re struggling with whatever … purity that they can come to us.
Yvette: Yeah, absolutely and being willing to apologize to our kids when we’re struggling with things, and they have you know, unfortunately been the victims of a hard day. You know, going to them and just saying you know, “Honey, we were wrong in our attitude. Please forgive us,” because then they learn to do that in return.
Katie: It’s so beautiful when you hear your kids saying that to each other, because they’ve heard you do it.
The other day I’d snapped at one of my boys, and I asked him, “Please forgive me. I’m sorry I did that,” and the other boy said, “Good job, mama.” Like, you know we call it spiritual weightlifting in our house. When you apologize and your flesh is like, no! You know, you picture your like flesh shriveling up and like getting stronger and we call it spiritual weightlifting. When you apologize saying I’m sorry and then the next step saying, will you forgive me? That’s like an extra five pounds.
Yvette: I love it. Really quickly, we’re almost out of time. But I want to ask you from your devotional that you just put out, do you have a favorite entry in there that you would like to share with us?
Katie: Yes, I’d love to. This one is on Day 18, it’s called, “Small Things Mothering.” And I start from a few verses in Zechariah … and God says, “Do not despise the day of small things.” And I love this, especially because I’m a stay at home mom, and sometimes it just seems like our day is filled with small things. And the Lord was encouraging Zerubbabel though the prophet Zechariah here, and he was actually laying the foundation for the temple where people would worship God. And so we look back at that and we say, oh that is not a small thing. That’s the big thing. But guess what mama, you’re doing a huge thing.
You’re laying a foundation, but it takes small things, daily being faithful, and even the beginning of great things like building the temple for the Lord can be despised. And we can despise these things. And I’m just thankful God knows that, and God has called us mamas to build a mighty thing, which is our home, and we are laying a mighty foundation daily even though it seems small. Moses wrote, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us. Yes, establish the work of our hands,” and this should be our prayer too. And so in the journaling entry I said, I consider what it is that makes us despise the day of small things.
So I want moms to analyze, why do I despise this? And often it’s a root of pride. Is there a sense that you’re above it? And then I ask the simple question, “do you enjoy small things?” Maybe there are some small things you enjoy. Why do you think you enjoy those, and write down your thoughts and search your heart. Pray for the Lord to give you a heart to enjoy even the smallest things today. And then I close with Colossians 3:23-24, Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as a reward.
You are serving the Lord Christ. So when you’re doing the dishes, when you’re changing a poopy diaper, when you’re separating siblings squabbling again, you are serving the Lord Jesus Christ and that is no small thing.
Yvette: Yes, oh Amen, I love it. That is the absolute perfect way to end this. Our job is not a small job. It seems like it is sometimes, and it seems like it’s just the mundane, everyday … changing diapers, doing dishes, you know, homeschooling, teaching spelling once again, having your kids sound out C A T, you know? But it is no small thing because we are raising up these children to be ambassadors for Christ, and to be the future of this country, and we’re raising adults. We’re not raising children, and it is a very big job, and it is a very important job.
Thank you Katie. You have been such an encouragement to me. Where can people find you?
Yvette: Okay, and we will link back to both of those things in the show notes. If you guys have a chance to pick up this devotional, I would highly recommend it. It is really encouraging. I love the journal part in there. I’m a journaler, and so I love to … I’ve got my journal. Every day I sit and write in it, and so I love that you’ve got the devotional on one side and then the journal on the other side. So you can really write down what you’re feeling for that day, and just how the Lord is moving in your heart with each of those devotionals, and I do want to say … I think Scott had said it took you two years to write this devotional, right?
Katie: Yes, yes.
Yvette: I mean, this was a process. Because … and I want to say that because I don’t want moms to think, well she’s got seven kids. Her house is run perfectly and she wrote a devotional. Like how is that even possible?
Yvette: Because again that’s one of those things that will make moms feel like they’re inadequate. This is something that has been a part project for you for quite sometime.
Katie: Yeah, just to give you an idea, my husband wrote a book. It was 80,000 words. This is 9000 words total. And this was just, you know what, I would write about stuff, and when women would react like positively, like, “Oh that’s me,” that’s the stuff I would write about. So I just wanted to write what would speak to women’s hearts.
Yvette: Well, thank you for sharing your heart with us. You are a great encouragement and a blessing, and thank you guys for listening to the Podcast today. We love having you with us. Please continue praying for us and sending us notes of encouragement. We always like to know how we can encourage you, and how we are encouraging you. So that we know that we’re doing the right thing here. Let us know what other topics we can tackle on the Podcast. If you have any suggestions for Podcast guests or anything like that, let us know. You can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and just let us know how we can serve you. And Katie, again thank you for your time today. You are a huge blessing and I appreciate you being with me.